The faces of a new freshman class filed into Thurston Hall Saturday – business as usual. Move-in anxiety was high, timid hellos were exchanged, and parents’ tears were visible.
But the curiosity of a new section of freshman life was in the air. A community so new to GW that no one knew what to call them – the freshmen residents of the Hall on Virginia Avenue.
HOVA is GW’s newest freshman residence hall and the center of much attention around campus. Located across the street from the historic Watergate Complex, the former Premier Hotel now houses 386 freshmen.
During their first night staying in HOVA, residents explored the positives and negatives of the hotel-style residence hall that has become the focus of much campus skepticism lately.
Residents shared initial surprise at living on the side of Virginia Avenue foreign to the GW logo.
“When I looked at HOVA, I didn’t realize where it was and when I found out I thought, `Wow, that’s a long walk,'” freshman Samantha Gen said.
Some students blamed the University for not making it clear how far they would be living from the center of campus, but many said they did not mind the long walk to the center of campus because they were closer to Georgetown.
Signs of the former hotel remain in HOVA – brass luggage carts fill the lobby, framed pictures remain bolted on the walls and the traditional lighting dimly fills each room, but with the eerie hotel feel come the benefits of plush hotel living.
Unlike Thurston Hall, this freshman residence hall provides wall-to-wall carpeting, new furniture, two sinks, a refrigerator and a comfortable bathroom for each room – not to mention vending machines on every floor and a community pool.
Residents said they believe the unique amenities in HOVA will help foster a sense of community among the residents of the building.
“I think it’s going to be a meeting place for everybody,” resident Seth Zucker said. “It’ll break the ice for a lot of situations.”
Signs of the HOVA community were already evident Saturday night. The third floor hallway was packed for an unofficial hall get-together. Seventh- floor residents, who are part of a Watergate history living-and-learning program, gathered to discuss their sudden popularity with local and national media. Fifth floor residents explored the eighth floor to find out more about the Healthy Living hallway.
“There’s definitely HOVA pride,” resident Jeff Chandler said.
Residents of Thurston Hall shared a similar sense of community with their community facilitators while waiting in long lines for the elevator Saturday morning.
Resident Carl Holubowich said moving into the freshman residence hall went smoother than he anticipated.
“The CFs were wonderful. They even offered to help us bring some of our stuff up to the room,” he said.
Resident Patty Thorton said she was excited about an experience HOVA residents will not get – living with three other roommates.
While Thurston residents said their only complaints for move in were long lines and problems activating their GWorld cards, far away HOVA residents shared more serious concerns.
Some residents complained about dangling wires, broken toilets, dangling lamps, mouse traps, unfinished computer labs and continuing construction.
HOVA resident Claudia Loziol told her neighbors about her move-in nightmare Saturday.
“I stepped into HOVA and couldn’t believe how nice it was. I saw the carpet and the nice bathroom, and the new fridge and was really excited,” she said. “Then I opened my fridge and maggots crawled out.”
Saturday night, some fifth-floor residents discussed the controversy that surrounds HOVA. Along with being offered free lemonade, residents said a street vendor also offered his sympathy for HOVA residents for being caught in local tensions.
Through the controversy, unfinished construction, and unnerving move-in surprises, HOVA residents shared one common sentiment.
“The positives outweigh the negatives,” resident Charles Baxter said.