East Hall renovated to meet housing demand, not welcomed idea by all

Two East Hall residents were moved out of temporary rooms into what used to be East Hall’s computer lab.

The two freshman, Julissa Rostro and Iris Lucas, lived with their respective resident assistants temporarily at the beginning of the school year, and were finally able to move the week of Oct. 9-11 into the computer lab, which was converted into a residence room.

In order to meet a housing demand, Residence Life put their expanded occupancy plan into place by deciding in the summer to convert the computer lab in East Hall into a residence room. Preparation began by removing the computers and upgrading the room’s personal bathroom.

Director of Residence Life Alicia Vela said the computer lab was transformed “so that fewer students would have to live with the RA in a space that wasn’t conducive for two people, into a space that could be their semi-permanent space.”

Four of the six computers in the computer lab functioned at the time of the conversion and two of those computers were relocated to the lower lobby of East Hall for use. The remaining computers have been moved elsewhere across campus.

The room looks similar to other rooms in East Hall and is only slightly smaller, but fitted with furniture to make it seem the same size as a regular room.

“I’m more happy that I don’t have to bother my RA all that much anymore … it’s more like I actually have a roommate now. You know, there’s a difference between an RA for a roommate and then an actual roommate. I felt kind of awkward being with an RA … I really like my roommate; I feel like it’s better for me social wise,” Lucas said.

In regard to her change of living space Rostro said, “I really feel indifferent about it; I think it’s the same.”

Rostro and Lucas attended the same orientation session held on July 9-10 and they both received emails before school started informing them they would be temporarily living with their RAs. Lucas was informed via email prior to orientation and Rostro was notified later, but still well before move-in took place Aug. 21.

Rostro and Lucas later met with Residence Director Marie-Louise Bridgeman on Oct. 6, and were informed and shown the transformed computer lab. They moved in less than a week later.

Some students in East Hall were not prepared for the change. Vela claims that all East Hall residents were informed about the computer lab by Bridgeman and RAs during floor meetings on Sept. 28. However, some residents don’t remember being informed then.

“I really don’t remember the conversation [during the floor meeting] that the computer lab would be a dorm. I do remember them saying that the computer lab wouldn’t be available for a while,” Lucas said.

Some students were concerned because, compared to the quiet atmosphere the computer lab had in an enclosed room on the main lobby floor, the lower lobby, where two of the computers were moved to, tends to be a space where students go to unwind.

“Before, you could just go in [the computer lab] and you’d know you’d have a quiet place, and now you go down [to the lower lobby] and there could be people watching TV, playing pool, ping pong, there’s usually people down there,” freshman Tirsa Bernal said.

“I was actually mad because … I wanted to use the computer lab, but I didn’t know it was going to be a room; I wasn’t sure why they had closed it,” Rostro said initially.

Students living at other residence halls on campus can expect a survey from Residence Life about possibilities for their own computer labs.

“The space could potentially become a satellite fitness center … yoga rooms, meditation rooms, small group study, or anything else that could benefit the community and the residence hall,” Vela said.

Residence Life continues to review changes for the computer labs in residence halls because there are a growing amount of students that bring their own laptops and computers.

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