Since the reopening of East Quad Residence Hall this fall, students have begun to wonder what exactly the renovation’s $116-million price tag has bought them. The transition to the “new” East Quad has not been without significant adjustment and frustration. Students in the Residential College have called East Quad home since 1969.

Some complain that the RC has taken a large loss as a community due to the renovation. However, most RC students who experienced East Quad before it was closed for renovations unanimously agree that, even if just for safety reasons and general deterioration after years of use, the building was in need of a makeover.

LSA senior Rosie Levine, who recently completed an independent study project aimed at compiling memories and stories from East Quad prior to its renovation, said she feels it is important to acknowledge not only what was lost in East Quad’s renovation, but also the necessity of the improvements.

“East Quad has been a really important place for a lot of people over the years,” Levine said. “Before East Quad closed, a lot of people came back and talked about how much the building really meant to them and how much their college life was really formed around East Quad and how that was really the center of their social life and political life.”

The Halfway Inn, a concert space known among students as “the Half-ass,” was one of the major parts of East Quad and was eliminated during renovations, sparking discontent among some students.

“That was a huge central aspect of the East Quad community, and they actually took it away in the renovation, and a lot of people were really, really upset about that,” Levine said.

Joellyn Plasterer, a sophomore in the Residential College, admits that students living in East Quad have experienced a loss of community during this transitional period for the RC, which was relocated to West Quad Residence Hall during construction.

“Half of us in the RC didn’t have that sense of community, so we don’t even know how to foster it. We don’t know what the RC was before,” Plasterer said, “People will tell us it was better, but how do you fix that? The administrators are trying really hard, but I think the community is suffering.”

Having lived in East Quad both before renovations and after, Madeline Higgins, an RC junior and East Quad resident adviser, said she had a very positive experience living in the old East Quad.

“It was a blast. The community was just really great. There was a lot of art work on the walls — murals and stuff; it just had a great personality,” she said.

Higgins added that her experience with the new East Quad has been similarly positive thus far.

“Coming back from West Quad has been a great experience; everybody is a lot more open here, especially because of the layout of the building,” Higgins said.

Though students complain about how the RC has changed with the renovation of East Quad, Levine sees the changes as “complicated.”

“The new building definitely matches the University’s goals for the future, and I think there were a lot of problems with the old building, like structurally and health-code wise, for sure,” Levine said. “But I definitely think that the building itself was a point of similarity between people from the RC from different generations; people came together around that, and there is a lot lost there even though it had to happen.”

The dining hall has been a source of frustration for students actually living in East Quad. Students from other dorms choose to eat there frequently and crowd the room, as South Quad dining hall is closed this year for construction.

Peter Logan, the director of communications for University Housing, said in comparison to other dining halls, East Quad provides more options for vegetarian and vegan students, more local foods — all meat and poultry at East Quad is local — and made-to-order food.

However, Plasterer mentions overcrowding and the general time-consuming nature of eating in the East Quad dining hall affect her and other residents on a daily basis.

Students are still adjusting to this new dining experience, and are finding ways to cope with the crowds.

“We aren’t restoring residence halls to be what they were or to meet expectations of those who used to live there,” Logan said, “We are renovating them for the contemporary and emerging needs of current and future students.”

The post-renovation East Quad, Plasterer said, almost feels like a hotel. Things are very clean, modern and nice, but it doesn’t always feel like home. But Plasterer and other students are also excited to see what East Quad becomes.

“I think it is kind of cool that we have this opportunity to put our unique imprint on this building.” Higgins said.

“East Quad was definitely home to both students and faculty before the renovation,” Levine said, “Maybe it will become that for a new generation again, but this building was really special.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.