Four residence halls to receive upgrades this summer

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo by Jillian DiPersio | Hatchet Photographer

Throughout the next academic year, facilities workers will replace the three elevators in South Hall, according to housing officials. Four residence halls are getting upgrades this summer.

The University’s top housing official said his department plans to renovate or make changes to four residence halls this summer.

Thurston and Mitchell halls, JBKO and 2109 F Street will all receive upgrades over the next few months, GW Housing Director Seth Weinshel confirmed. The renovations are part of the University’s commitment to update each residence hall on a seven-year cycle.

Officials will install new floors in JBKO, new bathrooms, kitchens, flooring and doors in 2109 F Street and new furniture to each of the more than 250 rooms in Thurston Hall over the next few months, Weinshel said.

Only two of the buildings will receive structural updates, he said.

“As part of the university’s ongoing commitment to modernize and upgrade its residence halls, the university is planning to make upgrades to several residence hall buildings this summer,” Weinshel said in an email.

Weinshel declined to comment on how his staff determined which halls to renovate this year.

The Residence Hall Association lobbied for JBKO to receive upgrades last year, but the building was passed over for renovations last summer.

This will be the second consecutive summer of renovations in Mitchell Hall. Workers will upgrade some heating and cooling systems in the building, Weinshel said.

Weinshel said throughout next academic year, facilities workers will also replace the three elevators in South Hall.

Students have complained about the frequently malfunctioning elevators in South Hall since the building opened in 2009. In 2010, a University official apologized to residents for mechanical issues with the elevators. But even last semester, students reported they had broken down on multiple occasions.

Weinshel declined to say how much the renovations cost, but he said the upgrades will be included in the capital budget, voted on by the Board of Trustees next month.

Residence Hall Association President Ali Belinkie said members of the association worked with administrators to finalize the renovation plan for this summer.

Belinkie said the renovations are important “because the building that students live in must be kept up and cared for.”

“Thousands of students live in the residence halls each year and they deserve a place to call home that is kept to a livable standard of living,” she said in an email.

Last month, former RHA President Mike Massaroli said members of the association would advocate that the University budget more money for summer renovations. He said that without more funding, the University would likely not be able to achieve its goal of renovating every hall on campus on a seven year cycle.

Belinkie said she and other students will know more about this year’s renovations after the Board of Trustees meets in May to approve the budget.

Last fall officials confirmed they were exploring ways to upgrade Thurston Hall, but Weinshel declined to comment on whether they would complete more substantial renovations.

Belinkie said the large number of Thurston Hall residents “pose challenges to the ability to renovate the hall.”

She said RHA will continue to work with and lobby GW staff for hall renovations, including in Thurston Hall.

JBKO residents have complained about utilities and pest problems. Next year, the hall will house about 265 sophomores and juniors

Katie Keim, the president of JBKO’s RHA hall council, said renovations are “extremely necessary.”

“To be frank, the building is really old. The kitchen tile in a lot of rooms I’ve been in is cracked, same thing with the bathroom,” she said. “The carpeting outside the rooms in the hallways is pretty disgusting.”

Other than the flooring, Keim said the University needed to “revamp the whole building.” She said residents have complained of chipped paint, hot water that frequently doesn’t work, an aging heating system, pipes that make a “weird banging sound” in the winter and a basement that she said is in “horrendous” condition.

Guthridge, Shenkman and Francis Scott Key halls were all initially under consideration for renovations this summer, according to the GW Housing website, but were not selected this year.

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