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Out with the old, in with the new

October 25th, 2012

Murphy Hall, the home of first-year students and many interesting stories, has been scheduled for its first-ever renovation during the 2013-2014 academic year. The building will be completely shut down during the remodeling to accommodate the various updates and changes to the building. The Rev. Robert Niehoff, S.J., John Carroll University’s president, said in his announcement of the renovation that Murphy is the “largest and most-outdated residence hall on campus,” and the renovation will make it JCU’s “first 21st century residence hall.”

When the project was announced and John Carroll University students learned about the closure of Murphy for the 2013-2014 academic year, many had questions and suppositions about the new living arrangements on campus.

Information about students’ on campus living options became available after Fall Break, when Lisa Brown, director of the Office of Residence Life, spoke to the Student Union about the new plan. After this, a campus-wide email was sent to students to outline some of the basic restrictions and necessities that having Murphy closed would involve.

Some of the rules for housing will remain unchanged. For example, JCU will continue to have the two-year on campus living requirement for freshmen and sophomores. Housing on campus will be available to juniors and seniors, and the majority of dorm living will be in two-person rooms.

There are a few other things that will be different. For instance, sophomores and upperclassmen will be housed primarily in Campion Hall, Hamlin Hall, Bernet Hall, Millor Hall and the six JCU-owned duplexes on Warrensville Center Road. The duplexes will be included in the general housing lottery as they were last year, according to Brown.

Freshmen will be allowed to live in Campion, Dolan, Pacelli and Sutowski halls. There will be a limited number of single rooms available to sophomores, juniors and seniors, but there will be no super-singles. In addition, some triples will be offered to students at a discounted price.

Brown said, “The triples will be placed in residence halls that are conducive to adding an additional student to a room.” This will economize on the available space while still being aware of the possibility for a cramped living space, according to Brown.

Floors for fraternities and sororities will remain in Hamlin and Campion Halls as long as the organizations continue to meet their floor requirements. Greek organizations will be given more specific information about who can live on their floors at a later date.

For students who are studying abroad next fall, the living situation will be a little tricky, but manageable with the help of the office of Residence Life. The option of freezing or holding a bed for students traveling in fall of 2013 will not be available. Res Life is willing to work with students to find a solution and suggests that students find a group of three – one person who is staying on campus all year, one studying abroad in the fall and one traveling in the spring.

Residence Life anticipates that, under these conditions, JCU will be able to house about 90 percent of the upperclassmen that want to live on campus. This means that they have projected that about 40 upperclassmen may have to seek alternative housing next year. Res Life plans to offer information about places to rent and how to live off-campus on its website starting in November.

The remodel is projected to be finished for the 2014-2015 academic year. With a project this extensive, the question of it not being finished comes to mind.

“The facilities staff, the architects and the construction team are working diligently to ensure the project is completed,” Brown said.

If Murphy is not finished for the 2014-2015 academic year, Brown said the issue will be addressed at that time.

Students seem to have mixed feelings about the renovation of Murphy. Many upperclassmen are worried about not being able to live on campus, and it appears as though housing will be a very sensitive issue come February.

Most students agree on that Murphy needs to be changed and updated.

Sophomore Time Ficke said, “Murphy is in desperate need of renovation because of the years of abuse it has gone though.”

Junior Alexis Park also thinks the renovation is necessary. “Being in the building before, I feel bad for those who have to live in there.  It smells really bad, and the interior is an eyesore. Because of its deteriorating state, it also makes students believe its okay to tear the building apart or leave messes.”

Students did seem a little irritated about Greek floors still being available. Sophomore Eleanor Axson said, “I think it is alright that Greek life can keep their floors so long as those floors are filled to capacity. It does bother me that Greek upperclassmen are pretty much guaranteed housing and other upperclassmen are not.”

Park noted that she thought it was okay for Greek life to keep their floors, but she can understand why people would be upset about the advantage upperclassmen in fraternities and sororities have.

Others think that it is good for Greek Life to keep their floors. Sophomore Kara Mihalic said that because Greek Life pays dues and puts a lot of money into their floors, they should be able to keep them. Freshman Chris Barthan agreed. “I think it is essential that Greek Life gets to keep their floor because they emphasize the point of brotherhood or sisterhood. To keep those values, I think it is important that everyone in the fraternity or sorority live together,” he said.

Some students think that the new housing is unfair for those studying abroad. Park noted that she thinks that it is going to be a “pain to deal with” for students studying abroad.

“I don’t think [the rules for studying abroad are] fair; they shouldn’t have to worry about what they are going to do when they come back. They can’t sign a lease and pay for a house for only half a year,” Mihalic added.

Overall, students are worried about their chances of actually getting housing. Many do not want to end up being in the group of people pushed off campus.

“I am nervous that I will be one of the people who will be forced to find off campus housing. I think that the University should offer compensation for the inconvenience to those who wish to live on campus but are forced off; even though they will not have to pay room and board, they will still have to pay for rent, a commuter meal plan, additional food and transportation,” Axson said.

The renovation of Murphy is going to change the living situation on campus next year and students will have to be open and flexible as Res Life works out the details. But the newly-improved Murphy should be worth the trouble, according to Brown.

“While the renovation will create some challenges for a short period of time, the end result will be a residence hall that will enhance the overall student experience for years to come,” said Brown.