Stephens College finalized the purchase of Columbia and Wood Halls during summer break, and several departments headed a variety of projects focused on renovations, deep cleaning and the community living of Columbia Hall apartments. Despite all of the changes, some students dislike the building’s new living arrangements.
Facilities spent hours, day in and day out, repainting walls, cleaning showers, scrubbing floors and tidying up what residence life officials considered a building in “severe need of repair.”
“It’s my understanding towards the end of ownership by the previous company, that the building was not in the best condition,” said director of student services, Erin Mazzola. “It was not taken the best of care of, so we were happy to get it up to our standard.”
Floors went from yellow to white, facilities added free laundry units on each floor and each apartment received a newly-installed, flat screen television. However, walking into Columbia Hall, the new amenities are not the only visible additions. Sign after sign indicating new building rules, a graduate resident in charge of the building and a guest sign-in book at every entrance set an uncomfortable tone with some students. This will be senior Christie Lee’s third year in the building.
“This building was viewed as a place for the upperclassmen to have more independence,” Lee said. “Just because Stephens is pretty strict about living on campus, this was like your little safe haven of ‘pretend you’re living off campus, but get all the benefits of living on campus.’”
Now, she said, some of the new rules have revoked parts of that independence, and some students have shown their disapproval by tearing down signs and changing messages on the building’s dry erase boards.
“It’s my understanding that there have been instances of disrespect, inappropriate behavior and all of that,” Mazzola said. “It’s hard to embrace change and with the change of ownership, people who have lived in the past of Columbia Hall have to get used to the new policies.”
Embracing that change, Lee admits it’s all about integrity and representing yourself as an upperclassman when it comes to the new policies, like signing in guests.
“I can see where people are coming from and maybe feeling like they’re being babied and want to retaliate, but I think it comes down to we’re upperclassmen and we should be taking the responsibility to sign them in anyway,” Lee said.
Mazzola agreed, saying that upperclassmen enjoy more freedom in Columbia Hall to follow the rules on their own without residence life stationed at an entrance all day. Despite the rule changes, Lee said she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
“There’s new rules, but it’s just a part of being on a college campus,” Lee said. “I’m not bitter about it at all. I’m still happy to be living here, definitely.”
Mazzola also mentioned the buyback allows Stephens to provide the same services to people that live in Columbia and Wood Halls that would live in the other residential buildings. Before, security was not allowed to enter the buildings if a student needed help. Instead, students had to call the Columbia Police Department. Also, only one employee tended to both buildings during the previous management, whereas now, an entire department is responsible for the buildings’ cleaning and maintenance.
Story by senior Angel Mendez