The Student Government Association (SGA) organized a town hall meeting on Feb. 9 to address concerns of on-campus living conditions. The last SGA town hall meeting was held nearly two years ago, when students and staff discussed increasing tuition and housing costs.
“There is a need to look at the ways we enhance and transform the residential experience on campus,” said Donna Lee, vice president of Student Affairs and leader of the Residential Life & Explorations (RLE) Master Planning Committee. Lee created the committee to review possible renovations of Rollins’ existing residence halls. Two independent consultants and an architect will assist the committee with its planning.
The staff in attendance at the town hall included Lee, Leon Hayner, assistant vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students; Juan Escobar, interim director of Residential Life and Explorations; and Ed Kania, vice president of Finance.
All of the above staff are members of the RLE Master Planning Committee.
Lee said that the committee is attempting to promote an ideal residential experience alongside the 3 year live on-campus requirement, which mandates that all residential students must live on campus for at least three years.
As part of this plan, Lee said the committee is creating more open community spaces across campus, with the hope of bringing students together to promote diversity and inclusion. The committee will explore the characteristics that make up successful communal spaces on campus, like Lakeside, and implement them into pre-existing spaces that are not being used to their full potential.
Ward Hall Construction
On Nov. 18, the school sent a campus-wide email reporting that a piece of precast concrete was dislodged, falling from the northern face of Ward Hall, a freshman residential building. This has made the front entrance of Ward unusable. In the town hall, many students expressed concern with internal structural damage and whether the building was still up to code regarding fire regulations.
In response to these concerns, Kania said that the building itself is structurally sound, as only the front overlay of the building was affected. This overlay has been removed entirely and will be reconstructed with materials by a private constructor to preserve design integrity.
Kania said that Ward Hall is still accessible from its side entrances and meets all fire safety regulations, despite the front entrance and sidewalk being blocked off completely.
In addition to Ward Hall construction, a student on WebEx said that they have been experiencing cold-like symptoms in Ward Hall since returning from the Winter Break.
In response, Juan Escobar said that “[t]he air quality reports have shown that at this point, the spore counts inside the residence halls are lower than outside [spore counts].”
He recommended taking into account other factors that could be contributing to increased humidity levels and various air pollutants in the room, such as cleanliness and wet clothing.
Possible Water Damage in Elizabeth Hall
In addition to concerns of air quality and structural damages, residents of Elizabeth Hall have reported water damage in the hallways, specifically outside of the bathrooms.
“One of my [peers] brought up that the ceilings of Liz are falling apart in the bathroom and there is water damage on the carpet,” said Evan Link, a student senator.
Escobar said that water damage in the single-stall bathrooms may be due to removable showerheads, possible structural flaws in the flooring, and the absence of a shower lip to keep water from leaking into the hallways.
Escobar said that, if the bathrooms are shown to have systemic leaks, then the solution would be to gut the ADA bathrooms and install new, waterproof flooring and drains over the summer. Further inspection of the bathrooms will be required to confirm whether there is a systemic leak before this solution is put into place. It was not mentioned, however, when or if the bathrooms would be inspected.
The town hall was concluded by encouraging students to continue being transparent with faculty and staff regarding any concerns or recommendations, giving the RLE Master Planning Committee an opportunity to formulate a plan that is in the community’s best interests.
“An ideal [residential] space should be one where you feel that you can thrive, the spaces are engaging, they build a community, support your mental health and wellbeing, and support your academic achievement,” said Lee.
There are 15 total members on the Residential Life & Explorations Master Planning Committee, including the following:
- Steering Committee Member:
Vee Santa Lucia