Next year, the college hopes to increase the incoming freshmen class size from this year’s 379 to approximately 391. As gradual expansion occurs, members of the administration are seeking to capitalize on any available dorm space that could provide extra housing.
As a result, the Mary Lyon Hall (ML) basement is being prepared to house students next year. Vice President for Facilities and Services Stu Hain said that work would be completed prior to the beginning of the fall semester.
“We are indeed making the garden level (basement) rooms in ML ready for use next fall,” he said. “They do not need a lot of work, as when we took them out of service, they were in good shape. We will paint them, put in new flooring material, replace lights and replace furniture where necessary.”
Additional lighting will be installed in each hallway and all rooms will be painted and patched. Plans for a new student lounge located next to the laundry room, equipped with a TV, cushioned seating, and bar stools are also in the works. Additionally, another resident assistant (RA) will be hired for the hall.
Current plans are to offer six different blocks in ML to anyone from the rising senior, junior, and sophomore classes. Renovations and updates to ML’s lower level will continue through the spring and summer in preparation for opening the floor.
However, the basement, according to some, is in a questionable state for living quarters.
“I think the main problem is simply that no one has lived there for a while,” said Mercer Borris ’16, an ML resident. “It’s dusty and smells vaguely of mold, and the hallways are dark and eerie.”
She also mentioned that the rooms are filled with old mattresses, and a few of the ceilings have deteriorated over time.
But Borris said it was still inhabitable. “It isn’t terrible, though,” she explained. “I’’m sure that after a few months of being inhabited, the basement will seem like a decent living space.
She also mentioned that because Mary Lyons is built on a hill, the basement is only half underground. The space has numerous windows that allow for natural light to enter.
John Lim ’16, another ML resident, echoed Borris’ sentiments.
“It’s very old and kind of grungy,” said Lim. “But it mainly has the same feel of the rest of the building. There are cracked walls but its also pretty well lit. I only go down to do laundry, but it’s not too bad.”
Varying annual class size can create strain on administration, and only so much dorm space is available. Dean Jim Bock, the head of admissions and financial aid, explained that there would always be enough space for the amount of students accepted, and that in terms of annual class size, the college essentially “looks to replace the exiting senior class.”
“Last year,” he said, “There was less room, and we admitted a smaller class, and this year there will be more room, and we are looking to fill to capacity. The renovations in ML allow us to address both issues of current housing tightness and the slightly larger class.”