Summer renovations are completed in two East Commons residential halls

By Sophie Foster and Grace Apostol

News Co-Editors

At the end of last semester, the Department of Residential Life announced plans to renovate several dormitories on campus. This semester, students saw some of these renovations for the first time as they moved into Reid Hall and Minta Martin Hall.

According to Director of Residential Life Amy Sine, renovations include new windows, flooring, lighting fixtures, paint jobs, central air and heating, sustainable roofing, lounge furniture, and redone bathrooms with low-flow toilets.

“It became a priority for the institution to reinvest in the student experience,” Sine said. “You put money into the things you value.”

Sine hopes the changes will “encourage students…to spend a little bit of time in the common spaces”  that include redecorated armchairs, sofas, pool tables, and vending machines. “We provide the space, students bring the life,” she said. 

According to Resident Advisor junior Sarah Poirier, “just from roaming the halls and checking the lounges and bathrooms, this renovation was much needed…With the new flooring, updated bathrooms, and fresh furniture, it elevates Minta [Martin] to being one of the better first year dorms to live in.”

Poirier, who also worked as an RA last year, was eager to move into Minta Martin because of the benefits of the new space.

“I’m hoping and expecting much more first year community involvement within the building,” Poirier said. “I hope the freshmen will take pride in this building and spend time with others outside of their rooms in the new lounges or in the new kitchen downstairs.”

According to Reid Hall resident freshman Vincent Carroll,  comments on the renovations — particularly  from returning students familiar with the building’s previous appearance — have been eager. “I feel like I’m in the dorm everyone wants to be in,” Carroll said.

For Carroll, the gender inclusivity of the building is “a bit of a lifesaver,” and he’s loved the community the dorm has already cultivated.

“I feel like it’s such a close-knit community,” fellow Reid resident freshman Sherry Swain said. Swain felt that, had the dorm been overcrowded with students, it might have been overwhelming for first-year students as they got acclimated to campus life.

Swain was also pleasantly surprised by the remodeled bathrooms, which turned out to be clean and sleek in ways she didn’t anticipate dorm bathrooms to appear.

“The bathrooms seem to be getting cleaned regularly,” Carroll said. “Everything is very clean.”

Though facility upgrading happens gradually and is tied to budgetary constraints, it is essential to Sine that it continues to be a priority so that students can feel welcomed. To Sine, focusing on neighborly, inclusive environments for students living on campus is critical. For this reason, East, Middle, and West Halls are all closed this semester so that, as soon as possible, these dormitories can undergo similar changes — most notably, exterior work, new bathrooms, and central heating and air conditioning.

While consideration of renovations in other buildings occurs, Poirier hopes the still-existing needs of Reid and Minta Martin do not become overlooked.

“It is always great to celebrate the new, beautiful Minta [Martin],” Poirier said. “I have high hopes that there will be a much more positive experience within the freshmen…community and its RAs. But it is also important to keep in mind that Minta [Martin] still has a way to go to becoming the best building it could possibly be.”

According to Poirier, Minta Martin, a hall with four floors, does not have an elevator or any other dormitory in the East Commons, where most first-year students live.

“I know placing an elevator takes a long time for everyone involved in the renovation process, especially in this economy. I understand not everything can be done all at once, and I hope the College will fulfill students’ wishes to enhance the accessibility in East Commons in the near future,” Poirier said.

Sine recognizes the need for students to feel accommodated and encouraged to share ideas regarding the residential experience on campus. She encourages students to reach out to Residential Life at residential_life@washcoll.edu or to stop by the Residential Life offices on the first floor of Caroline House.

“I like talking to people. I like meeting students,” Sine said. “I’ll hear what you have to say…share with me any ideas you have. We may not be able to do something this year, but…maybe in three years, I find a grant, and we can do whatever was wanted.”

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