I am a second-year resident of East Quad, home to the Residential College and the newly formed Global Scholars program. Last fall, I noticed that East Quad had finally gotten rid of asbestos insulation, as well as all the closet doors and dressers. I noticed that our beloved eatery was taken away from us. I noticed the new theater and the partially renovated basement. I also noticed having to move out of my room midway through the semester because my room was leaking gutter water.
Almost all students on campus and many incoming students know that East Quad is one of the oldest and worse-off residence halls. If you’re ever in East Quad, stop by the Greene Lounge and hit one of the lounge chairs, and you’ll see what I mean (a cloud of dust comes out). It is in desperate need of renovation. Though the new theater has brought about some renovation in the basement, change remains far away.
East Quad continues to fall apart. This semester, sinks unexpectedly overflowed, resulting in destroyed personal belongings in three flooded rooms in my hallway. And when personal sinks can’t be fixed, they are taken away. Forever. There are rooms with holes in the walls where sinks once existed. The boys’ bathroom sinks have spewed out black, murky water from the drain. The dishwasher in the cafeteria has broken down — for over a week at times. The sole elevator travels as fast as The Flash, only past his prime and retired. The furnishings of both the Madrigal and Greene lounges are likely older than me. And I recently witnessed a sink overflowing, and the hall director on duty prevented a poor student from calling repairmen because it would cost the hall more for after-hours repair.
Yet, what surprises me is that East Quad is the residence hall traditionally used for orientation (the exception being last year, when it was held at South Quad) and Campus Day. The University doesn’t appear to care that this hall is the very first impression given to most prospective students. Should such a bad impression be given to parents and future Wolverines? Couzens is scheduled for renovations next year, and Mosher-Jordan and Stockwell just got renovated. Why not East Quad?
Sometimes, it’s hard to reconcile University spending with student needs. The Orion sculpture —that big orange metal thing in front of the University of Michigan Museum of Art — costs a significant amount, while East Quad remains without renovations. It’s frustrating. Though most of the money for the sculpture came from donations and not from students’ pockets, it’s hard to understand why the University hasn’t put more money into East Quad.
The painstaking renovations done on Mosher-Jordan and Stockwell cost tens of millions of dollars, and those dorms house around 425 and 400 residents, respectively. However, EQ alone houses about 900 students, which adds up to more than both of the afore-mentioned dorms combined, and it’s not even close to being the biggest hall. East Quad has so much to offer: classrooms, a dark room, a dance studio and even a ceramics studio. Despite these awesome resources, they go unnoticed because all that students seem to remember from orientation is an old building without air conditioning. The problem is simple: Renovating big dorms displaces too many students and the University loses a sizeable chunk of housing.
Perhaps if the University could afford multiple minor renovations instead of shutting down one full residence hall, there would be no need to perform such overhauls in the future. The ancient furnishings on the ground floor lounges could simply be refurnished. The showerheads could be elevated a foot higher so the majority of us don’t have to bend awkwardly to avoid making out with a stream of hot water.
And the displacement of students could be minimized after North Quad is opened. Half of EQ could be shut down and renovated and repeated for the second half. For now, future generations of EQ Wolverines will have to endure the confusing stairways, bending over to shower and the lumpy couches in the lounges.
Yubo Wu is an LSA sophomore.