Residents were far from chill for the immediate aftermath of the fire that consumed much of the Brookside Apartment complex. In the early morning of May 23, fire crews were dispatched to the corner of College and Walnut. The 100-foot-high flames reached temperatures of 1,500 degrees and destroyed much of the newly constructed complex was burnt to ash. While reconstructing the building, displaced residents were housed in the west wing of Hillcrest Hall, which became known to them as “Chillcrest Hall.”
Stephens students and faculty were notified of these negotiations shortly after via email. Sent by Amy Gipson, it stated that “neighbors help neighbors in times of crisis, and Stephens will do everything it can to help,” and assured students that the “needs and welfare of our own students come first”. However, numerous complaints and several instances have prompted Stephens’ students to see their presence as something less than neighborly.
In fact, LeeAnne Lowry, a sophomore film major and resident of Hillcrest Hall, said she would never ask the Brookside students for a cup of sugar.
“They came into our home and they destroyed it,” Lowry said.
The destruction Lowry spoke of included a broken window, and a water fountain.
“They broke the water fountain in the lobby. It looked like they started hitting it until it fell apart,” Lowry said.
Logan Weber, a senior fashion marketing and management major and Resident Assistant of Hillcrest Hall, agreed.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of complaints at the beginning of their stay in Hillcrest,” Weber said.
However, the peaceful coexistence did not last long.
“During their stay they busted the glass in the front door, dismounted a water fountain, stole the front Hillcrest Hall sign and trashed the hallways where they lived,” Weber said.
Lowry also commented on the missing Hillcrest sign.
“The Hillcrest sign is gone and we are assuming it was them,” Lowry said. “Not many Stephens people use the door closest to the area where the sign was located. Right now there are two stakes coming out of the ground and delivery drivers can never find us.”
Weber and Lowry expressed concerns about Stephens’ students not being able to utilize the lobby during Brookside’s extended stay.
Lowry mentioned that the Brookside residents, mainly the men, were constantly in the lobby, usually drinking and watching sporting events.
Weber’s reaction was similar.
“They were constantly in the lobby because there is not cable in the rooms, so many Stephens’ students could not really use this space,” Weber said.
She found the Brookside students’ behavior particularly annoying.
“I wouldn’t have minded them staying in Hillcrest if they respected our property better. Yes, it’s not the nicest of facilities, but seriously, grow up! Don’t break stuff and throw crap everywhere in the hallways. Pick up after yourself and act like you’re in college,” Weber said.
Although technically Weber’s job as an RA did not place her in charge of the Brookside residents, she still interacted with them frequently.
“Because of them constantly sitting in the lobby I would have to ask them to throw trash away and keep their voices down,” Weber said. “I didn’t really have much authority, but they did usually listen, thankfully.”
Tony Coleman, director of security, said he rarely encountered the Brookside students during their stay in Hillcrest because they had separate security and facility services. Coleman did speak of the sometimes rude and obnoxious behavior that some of the security officers had to endure while dealing with resident issues.
The instances of property damage inside Hillcrest Hall were an issue, but for the most part Coleman said he was pleased with how things occurred.
“There were plenty of parking violations in the beginning of the year, but close to the end everyone was informed of the do’s and don’ts,” Coleman said.
Coleman said that since Brookside students made the move from the residence quad across College there hasn’t been many significant problems.
“So far, the only things we’ve encountered are residents not being able to find their buildings due to their state of intoxication. They’ve been found wandering the campus during late hours,” Coleman said. “Of course there has been added noise, but for the most part we haven’t had any increase in problems.”
In the beginning of the semester Ryan Smith, director of Residence Life, said that other than the occasional loud behavior and situations, Stephens would completely separate themselves from Brookside, with the only connection between the two being the space that they shared. Now, Smith is relieved to be housing only Stephens’ students again.
“I like knowing who is on our campus. In the time that Brookside was here, we really didn’t know the types of people coming into our community,” Smith said.