Non-occupied floors affect halls

Cassie Buchman, Administration Editor

Jason Howell | The Daily Eastern NewsJason Howell

Two floors from Taylor Hall and one in Lawson are without residents because of renovations and a declining student body.

Mark Hudson, the director of housing and dining, said there are plans of renovations on the floors not being used right now.

Hudson said the fifth floor in the north tower of Taylor Hall is closed for bathroom renovations and fifth floor on the south tower is closed because of low enrollment.

A floor in Lawson Hall was also closed last year because of renovations.

Hudson said they want to make sure every floor has critical mass, meaning some floors are put offline for renovation.

“It’s the enrollment reality. When our enrollment’s down, we don’t need as much space,” Hudson said. “It makes more sense to not have an RA, it’s a way in which you can consolidate your residents onto the floors so they fit fine without using those floors.”

Hudson said they made the floor on Taylor with the elevator the one with no residents because it is the one that is the furthest climb for students get there.

“We don’t need all (the floors) for occupancy so that allows us to do some renovations on them,” Hudson said. “ So, when the enrollment continues to grow then we’ll have those floors ready to go.”

Taylor has nine floors in total, but only eight are inhabited.

Even with two floors closed, Taylor still has the highest resident population in it, Hudson said.

Taylor can hold 520 residents at maximum capacity.

The residence hall with the lowest resident population is Pemberton, but it is the hall with the highest retention rate.

Pemberton can hold 152 residents at maximum capacity.

Hudson said since Pemberton hall doesn’t have air conditioning and students get nervous about living in it.

Along with a lack of floors being inhabited, dining has also been affected because of the declined enrollment.

“We’re serving less meals, so obviously we’re saving some food costs,” Hudson said. “But we serve the same number of hours as last year so the cost for operation is very similar.”

Housing and Dining does not use money from the state or from tuition and fees so the only money they have is the money from people who pay to live on campus.

“We make adjustments in our expenses to make sure we break even, which we currently are,” Hudson said.

He said the number of building-service workers and resident assistants may decline in the coming years.

Hudson said he wanted to do everything efficiently for the residents, as students are happy in the halls and Eastern has some of the lowest room and board rates in the state.

Monique Harmon, the area director of Taylor and Lawson Hall, said the floors being closed affected the budget for hall council.

Hall council gets a percentage of money for their budget for residents that live in the hall.

One of Taylor Hall’s traditions is to get presents for the next year such as t-shirts and lanyards for the students.

“Now that we have less money, we’re not going to be able to buy both items,” Harmon said.

She said they will have to choose one or the other or raise the funds for these items themselves.

Taylor might also not be able to do the same programming as they did last year.

“We can do new ones on smaller scales, or different ones,” Harmon said.

Some of these programs include the Super Bowl party, the Irish Pub party and the Valentine’s Day parties, which are expensive because of the food and decorations, involved.

Harmon said one positive occurrence that came from closing the floors was the ability to get work orders done on those floors.

“Because there’s no residents, they don’t have to wait,” Harmon said. “So they actually have been able to fix things on the floor that might have took a long time if residents were here.”

Harmon said she went from having 650 residents to 350.

“I miss the students, before I was so swamped, and I’m still busy, but it’s different,” she said. “With more people, I had more developing students, I might have had more conduct issues. Now that I have less students I get to spend more time at my other building.”

Emmanuel Ayiku, a sophomore pre-nursing major, is a resident assistant in Thomas who was originally supposed to work on a floor of Taylor that was closed before getting a phone call in July.

He was told he was going to work in the housing and dining office, and was training to work there until an RA position came up.

He had the feeling a floor might be closed, but he did not think it would be the one he was going to be an RA in.

“I knew the opportunity was still going to come to be an RA, so I didn’t have a problem with it,” Ayiku said.  “It didn’t really matter where they put me at as long as I could help the school as much as I could.”


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]