Pierce under renovations, will reopen in summer

Lane Riggs

The halls are silent, devoid of laughter and music drifting from now empty rooms, where belongings lining the shelves used to remind residents that this is home. Home is still on campus — it’s just several feet away. 

Although Killingsworth Hall used to be a coed dorm, it is usually advertised as an all-girls dorm. However, boys from Pierce Hall, the advertised all-boys dorm, have moved into the fifth and sixth floors of Killingsworth because there were not enough boys to fill Pierce.

Clint Coulter, residence hall director, said that the residents were moved because there were not enough boys to completely fill the the dorm. Pierce can house up to 227 boys, but due to a drop in admissions for the spring, there were 124 residents living in the dorm before the spring semester. Similarly, Killingsworth can house 301 residents, but only saw 166 in the fall.

“We sent out a letter to all residents in Killingsworth and Pierce during the Christmas break,” Coulter said. “They had a warning and lots of time to move. We started moving the boys to Killingsworth on Jan. 16.”

Because there was a warning, Coulter said the transition was seamless.

“The housing department has an excellent staff, and the resident assistants and residents have taken it very well,” he said. “We have a great student body here. I know it wouldn’t go over as smoothly as it did at any other institution.”

Lindsey Lebowisky, psychology freshman, said it also went smoothly.

“There haven’t really been any problems, I’m on the second floor so I didn’t run into the boys,” she said. “But I do stay on my floor. It’s awkward to go up there.”

The boys’ floors, Lebowisky said, are less monitored. The boys can have girls over — but they still have to check in.  And there are some restrictions, as neither the boys or girls can go into each other’s halls.

“We can’t go into their halls and they can’t go into ours, but we can go to the lounges. There’s no problem, not yet at least,” she said, “but there is more traffic now.”

The boys are on the fifth and sixth floors, which doesn’t disrupt the still all-girls’ floors, Lebowisky said, as those two floors were completely empty.

“The first through fourth floors are full, and those were empty. Nothing has really changed. It’s still quiet, which is one thing I liked,” she said. “It’s gone really smoothly.”

English freshman Alex Rios said that she also thought there have been no problems.

“At first, I was a little skeptical, but now I have no issues with it,” Rios said. “The boys are okay and watched as much as they can be.”

She said although the boys are watched, it has disturbed the girls floors in Killingsworth.

“It has disturbed all-girl floors a bit simply because of some boys staying over,” she said.

Though Rios said boys have been staying over, there have been no reported problems. Both girls and boys have rules within Killingsworth, same as the other residence halls: a visitor has to be checked in, and they have to be escorted by their host at all times.

“It’s all a part of the regular guest-policy, but the housing department is making sure that it is reemphasized,” Angie Reay, associate director of residence life and housing, said. “The boys are being monitored as much as anyone else, and they’re being held to a higher standard because they are in a girls dorm.”

However, because problems of boys and girls staying over within the dorms have arisen, Whitney Atkinson, English sophomore, said she didn’t like the thought of boys in Killingsworth.

“I was frustrated when I found out, particularly because the dorm is all girls. I picked it because it was safe and comfortable,” Atkinson said. “It’s disingenuous to promise an all-girls dorm and then switch it up on the girls living there.”

The girls were told beforehand, but Atkinson believed that they should have been given the option to move into Legacy.

“I wish there would have been a chance to opt out, because that was the fairest thing to do,” she said. “It’s like I applied for something I didn’t get.”

Atkinson lives in Legacy now, but was originally drawn to Killingsworth because it was all girls.

“It was a safety thing when I first moved in. I feel so bad for the girls that live there now,” she said.

Atkinson said the girls should have been given the option to move, but the housing department had already taken this into consideration. Reay said the girls were able to change rooms between semesters as per usual, but they can still ask to be moved to either McCullough-Trigg or Legacy Hall.

“We sent out the email letting the girls know about Pierce boys moving in during the 2016 fall semester,” Reay said. “If girls moved because of it, we didn’t log it. Both girls and boys had through the first week of class to move. There weren’t many complaints, but parents did call in because they needed more clarification.”

Other than that, Reay said there haven’t been any problems.

“The transition has been as seamless as possible,” she said. “Everything has gone really well.”

As for Pierce, which stands empty, renovations are being made.

“We are painting the rooms, fixing things in the building,” Coulter said. “The building is running but we have lowered the temperatures to save money.”

An estimate of how much is being saved could not be made. 

Reay said repairs were also made to Killingsworth when the fifth and sixth floors were empty.

“We’re doing the same thing with Pierce now, getting it ready for summer camps. There’s athletic camps that come to campus, and the athletes all stay in the four residence halls,” Reay said. “During the summer, residents staying for summer classes will live in the apartments.”

Coulter reaffirmed that camps will be hosted in the renewed Pierce.

“We’ll host camps in Pierce during the summer, so it will be online again,” he said. “In a perfect world, we’ll also have enough boys to fill it in the fall.”