Written by Will Przedpelski, Content Editor
Last October, the university’s Board of Trustees met to discuss the new Student Life Master Plan, which includes upgrades to most housing facilities. Although this may come as a surprise to some students, Furman’s Student Life Master Plan has included changes to both North Village and South Housing since 2007.
Director of Housing & Residence Life (H&RL) Ron Thompson and Associate Vice President of Facilities and Campus Services Jeff Redderson revealed that these changes now seem set to begin in the coming months and years. They will primarily focus on creating community spaces in each location. Thompson also indicated that the new master plan includes “updates to the PAC and library as well.”
Explaining their rationale for making changes now, Thompson commented on the aging facilities where students live. Acknowledging that most of Furman’s residence halls were built decades ago, Thompson said, “those were built to house the Furman students of yesterday… and our students have changed over the years.” For example, Thompson explained that most Freshman housing does not have access for disabled students according to ADA guidelines.
The administration took this into account when renovating Lakeside Housing. Elevators and ramps were built to improve accessibility. Rooms were removed from each floor of the Lakeside complex to accommodate new hall lounges. Today, lounges serve as community centers and meeting places for students. The renovations also included the lake-level lounges, which are equipped with conference rooms, TVs, and study tables.
Moving forward, Thompson indicated that the university will “hire an architect to develop the renovation plan for North Village.” Changes to two buildings in North Village are currently slated for Summer 2021. Redderson also expects that Bell Tower Housing will undergo changes. He anticipates that the “Cabin” will be renovated this summer, and indicated that there is uncertainty over the future of the “Hut” and the “Shack.”
In addition to accommodating disabled students and adding community spaces, Thompson said that “the residential experience is modeled on developmental pathway” and “acknowledges students’ changing needs from the first through their fourth year.” Future renovations will “more closely align the residential facilities with the intended residential experience,” according to Thompson. With this goal in mind, Thompson also intends to engage students on what they envision for the future of housing on campus. He encourages students to share their input with him
Though not yet confirmed, a new development will potentially replace Blackwell in an effort to consolidate all Freshman students into South Housing. These decisions reflect the Board of Trustees’ aim to strengthen class cohesion among Freshmen and Sophomores, who are currently split between Lakeside and South Housing.
In conclusion, Director Thompson shared a poignant message regarding campus culture: “for everyone to be part of a community, there must first be a space.”