Walking on Taylor soil for the first time this year, many students noticed drastic visual and structural changes to the Hodson Dining Commons and Zondervan Library.
“We refreshed the Zondervan Galleria,” Special Assistant to the President Ron Sutherland said. “So if you go into the main hallway of the Galleria, we painted walls and we're putting new lighting in (that still has a little bit of finish up to do in terms of some lighting). We put new flooring in and changed out all the sound panels inside because they were old and dated.”
In terms of the dining commons, much of it was repainted, ceiling work was done and multiple brick walls were built inside.
On the editorial board, we are aware of these changes and aesthetic and functional needs they meet.
But — it can be difficult to grasp the essentiality of some of the “refreshments” and renovations when students are living in residence halls without air conditioning and with consistent plumbing issues.
“This year, there were a lot of renovations, but renovations that maybe seemed a little bit unnecessary like painting the library and putting fences up,” junior Kayleigh Khavari said. “All things that maybe make the campus more welcoming, but at the same time, there are older dorms like Olson, and we don’t have air conditioning.”
Khavari also feels as though dorms like Olson Hall are not very friendly to people with disabilities.
“We have a handicap shower installed, but it’s not like anyone can use them if they are handicapped,” Khavari said.
On the third floor of Olson Hall where Khavari lives, there is no way for students who are handicapped to access the handicap shower, let alone the floor itself since there is no elevator.
It is easy for students to experience these issues in their residence halls that affect them almost every day and wonder why so much money is being spent elsewhere.
So, in the fall of 2022, why do halls like Olson, Wengatz and English still not have handicap-friendly features, or even air conditioning?
“We keep talking about [air conditioning], we keep looking at options,” Sutherland said. “I had a conversation with an engineering firm just yesterday to see if they might be willing to look at one of the halls and see if they have a new idea.”
The problem with putting air conditioning in these buildings is that the floor-to-ceiling height is too short.
This means that a traditional air conditioning system will not work in these buildings.
“You have to do a non-traditional system,” Sutherland said. “And so we’re exploring what that looks like. And it’s not forgotten, it’s just really expensive.”
Although many students understand this issue, they find it difficult to watch other buildings advance while their residence halls continue to deteriorate or stay the same.
Sutherland explained that part of the reasonings behind the dining commons and library renovations were because those are spaces that students use every day.
This makes perfect sense, but perhaps this money could have been used in more practical ways. At the same time, we acknowledge that funding is tricky and money is often donated for a specific purpose or toward a specific task.
Our request here is not to stop renovating non-residence hall buildings or to drop everything and build new residence halls, but rather that Taylor would spend a little more time and attention on the beloved halls that so many students call home.
At the end of day, residence halls are the most used buildings by students.
They are where Taylor’s notable intentional community is ignited, and they should be places where all students feel comfortable, safe and happy.
It is important that students report any comments or concerns regarding facilities to leadership.
“Keep sharing with us what the concerns are,” Sutherland said. “It's hard for us to fix what we don't know about.”