By HANNAH GALEONE
After months of waiting, students will finally be moving back into Arrington Hall.
At the end of June, Arrington Hall was closed and added to the list of residence halls to be renovated and updated. Removing Arrington from the available residence halls resulted in the displacement of numerous students. Some students were moved to other locations on campus and others were placed in off-campus apartments.
“We’re on track [to have students move back in] next semester. It will be tight but they anticipate that contractors will be out of the building by the 15th of December,” said Dave Fleming, Assistant Dean for Residence Life and Housing.
In total, Arrington’s renovation is costing the University approximately two million dollars. The funds for it are coming from reserve accounts.
“To cover the cost of this renovation, we are moving unused balances from another residence hall project,” said Paul Messplay, the executive director of Budget and Financial Analysis. “So we are not having to allocate any new money for Arrington Hall.”
The original cause of Arrington’s closure was faulty plumbing on the fourth floor that flooded the structure. This water damage revealed additional damage to the building — specifically the presence of mold within the walls and structural parts of the building.
“As [the contractors] started to work on the repairs of [the flooding], they uncovered some additional issues around mold behind the walls,” said Dean Fleming.
A lot of the repairs being done on Arrington Hall were not in the original renovation strategy, but as the University became more aware of issues within the building, they broadened the construction plan.
“The [contractors] have increased their scope [of repairs] from when they first started. Any [mold] affected surface from the environment was taken out,” said Dean Fleming. “Every bathroom was gutted — we didn’t expect to do that.”
Alongside removing every bathroom and mold affected surface, the University is making other updates to the building.
The updates include: 3-piece inset showers, tiles that require less grout, energy-efficient LED lighting, and the replacement of all the windows and insulation. The new insulation being installed is a spray-in product, which reduces the risk of poorly insulated surfaces. Arrington is also being re-built with moisture resistant drywall.
“The 3-piece inset [showers] will make [the bathrooms] easier to clean and maintain. Less grout [in the tiling] will help minimize the possibility of future mold growth,” said Dean Fleming. “They’re trying to create a less conducive environment for mold growth.”
Although the University is working to combat the mold that has popped up in various buildings around campus, students are expressing their doubts.
“In my opinion, I think the mold [growth] is going to keep going,” said freshman computer science major, Anaïs Malangu. “They’re making repairs left and right. My friend said that we need to shut the school down to take care of the mold issue[s].”
“I would hope that they’re putting their best efforts into [fixing the mold issue],” said freshman anthropology major, Salem Smith. “Given that we pay to live and do our studies here- it’s like they’re doing [us] a disservice.”
Residence Life is currently working on the logistics of getting the displaced students back to campus. The specific information regarding move-in will be sent to students this week.
“We will work to honor the original roommate groups,” said Hunter Rauscher, the Associate Director of Residence Life and Housing. “[We] will work to keep them together or to place them together if they were split apart.”
The University is currently communicating will the displaced students and information regarding moving back will be sent to them before Thanksgiving Break. The University is going to provide the displaced students with full assistance when they move back into Arrington.
“We have a company that will come in, load them all up, and bring them [back to campus],” said Dean Fleming.
The leases with Cobblestone and The Seasons off-campus apartments, where displaced students are living, will end in the first week of January.
“We don’t have the option to extend [the leases] any further,” said Dean Fleming.
On the off-chance that Arrington is not ready to be used in Spring 2019, the University will put those students in current on-campus residence halls.
“If Arrington is not ready, we will still move students back onto campus,” said Rauscher.
“Traditionally, we do have enough capacity in January because of December graduations,” said Dean Fleming. “We tend to have enough vacancies to fill in, so in the off-chance [that Arrington is not completed], we would have enough beds.”
Residence Life will try, where it is possible, to keep roommate groups together if students cannot move back into Arrington. If there is not enough space to preserve the original roommate groups, they may be split up.
“[Splitting roommate groups] is not something we are planning on, but we do want to have a contingency plan in place just in case,” said Rauscher.
All Residence Life staff is aware that there may be an influx of students coming into the residence halls. The Arrington Residence Assistants will also be moving back from off-campus.
“This will allow them to maintain the community they had built in the fall,” said Rauscher.