Preliminary work for the Slocum Hall renovations began over winter break with the expectation of creating a more modern and efficient building by the time the students move back into the dorms at the end of August.
With a $14 million budget, the construction will enhance the sense of community with greater living space, install more updated technology services, and increase sustainability.
During half block, the first phase of construction replaced all of the windows in students’ rooms with new energy-efficient windows. This was the first step among many to introduce a more sustainable living environment.
Although not all improvements have been completed, the renovation project has plans to bolster insulation in the exterior walls, install a new heating and cooling system, and add thermostats to individual student rooms.
In terms of water conservation, the designs include low-flow water fixtures and dual-flush toilets, which are common among other buildings on campus. By enlarging the community space, Slocum will not only have more room in which students can interact, but simultaneously increase the amount of natural lighting.
“Slocum will certainly become a modern residence hall after renovations. The entire hall from student rooms to common spaces along with general improvements to building bathrooms and heating/cooling systems are all welcomed additions,” Resident Life Coordinator for Slocum Hall, Chris Casey, said.
Originally constructed in 1953, Slocum Hall will require a significant amount of commitment to complete the transformation within the next five months. The construction crew has been dedicated to a nine-to-five work schedule five days a week, with the occasional Saturday when necessary. They worked while students were away over spring break, and they will continue working through the summer. At this point, everything is on schedule.
Despite the workers’ long hours, the residents of Slocum Hall appear cooperative and have adapted amongst the chaos.
“General consensus is that construction does not affect the overall living experience of Slocum,” Casey said. “Students are happy and healthy within Slocum Hall. We are very mindful regarding, and do our best to accommodate, students who are not pleased with construction. Complaints of a construction project including noise, dust, and loss of several spaces around Slocum that students use to hang out or study.”
“There have been a few inconveniences, such as some entrances being blocked off and noise,” said Elle Beckett, junior resident advisor.
“Some of our residents have been unhappy with the necessary adjustments that come with the construction,” Beckett said. “I know that there has been an ongoing conversation between Slocum residents, Slocum staff, and the Residential Life administration about how best to keep Slocum a pleasant living environment throughout the renovations. Though the living situation is not perfect, it should be worth it in the end. The plans look beautiful!”
The Slocum residents have remained the primary concern throughout the renovation project. Apart from designing a new hall conducive to the life of a college student, various staff members have collaborated on how to best manage construction inconveniences.
Students are able to vocalize their opinions during Monday breakfasts and student forums. “Our main focus has been to carefully listen to each and every student voice to do our best to minimize the impact of construction,” Casey said. He also mentioned how the staff has rearranged furniture and reorganized spaces in order to compensate for areas under construction.
“I can’t really complain, the construction isn’t that bad,” sophomore Roy Dornbrook remarked. “They moved the piano out of Slocum initially, but luckily they just brought in a new one, so I’m happy.”
As with any long-term project, the construction plans have encountered some obstacles throughout the process, predominantly regarding how to most efficiently reduce noise levels.
“Crews complete the majority of loud work between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. on weekdays when possible,” Casey said. “We [Slocum staff] communicate with students as much as possible about noise on our South entrance doors with daily updates along with periodic emails discussing upcoming projects.”
“The staff does keep us up to date as to what’s going on,” said sophomore Chris Banks. “As soon as you walk in the lobby, there is a list of upcoming jobs, and they do keep it current. The biggest setback for me is the two entrances that are now blocked off and the cranes that sit outside my window. It can be unnerving to see those little cages right outside your window when you wake up.”
Casey further expressed the difficulty in balancing the desire for a more modernized building with the fact that students currently occupy the building. However, by concentrating their hours of “loud work” in conjunction with effectively utilizing vacation schedules, the construction crew has taken measures to diminish their presence.
“The most challenging aspect has been maintaining the equity of services provided before construction began,” Casey said.
Other highlights of the renovated Slocum Hall include doubling the number of wireless access points, providing new furniture, updating the exterior of the building, and creating an outdoor patio with a fire pit and barbecue.
Similar to the improvements made in Mathias Hall three years ago, Slocum will also have private booths in lounges, blackboard-painted walls, and an electric fireplace. Furthermore, the furniture that is currently in Slocum rooms will be redistributed to schools in need by an international surplus company.
“While I think Slocum was already the best hall on campus, I understand there were opportunities to improve this building for students,” Casey said. “Our focus has always been on the student experience and each new addition of upgrade has been made with that in mind.”