Thurston to house honors, engineering students

GW’s largest freshman residence hall, traditionally known for its boisterous residents, will house substance-free, honors and engineering students next year, a University official confirmed last week.

Seth Weinshel, director of the GW Housing Program, said the University decided to place communities traditionally in Lafayette Hall – which will be under renovation next year – in Thurston for the 2010-2011 academic year.

“We chose Thurston for a number of reasons, one of which was the size of the building, any SEAS student or Honors student that wants to live in the community can, which [has] been limited…in the past based on the size of Lafayette,” Weinshel said in an e-mail.

Thurston will house two thematic communities – one for arts and culture and another for politics and public policy – along with five smaller communities, according to the housing program’s website. The smaller communities include students in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the seven-year B.A. and M.D. program and the University Honors Program. There will also be a politics and values community and a substance -free community.

Weinshel said substance-free housing was brought back after students requested an alcohol and drug-free living option.

For years students bragged Thurston Hall was the second-most sexually active dorm in the country, but the ranking is a myth, according to officials at Cornell University and Playboy – the institutions often cited for the rankings.

Weinshel said Thurston has a different reputation each year and the residence hall will have a community based on the students living there.

“If a few floors in the building have a different type of community then the community. will have a different feel as well,” Weinshel said. “Each year the Thurston communities are different based on the people that live in the building.”

Freshman and Thurston resident Brandon Levy said the changes will influence the well-known dynamic of the building.

“I think they [will] inherently ruin Thurston by doing it. Thurston is a major part of the social scene at GW,” Levy said. “It’s not going to be the same old building.”

But freshman Ben Gillman, also a resident of Thurston, said the changes could positively impact Thurston residents.

“I think they will be successful in trying to tone Thurston down,” Gillman said. “I think it’s positive. There will be a lot less trips to the hospital for alcohol.”

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