Fulbright Hall will house exclusively freshmen starting next academic year, officials said.
The University began housing freshmen in Fulbright Hall this academic year, with freshmen comprising 150 of the hall’s 285 total residents. The move comes amid plans to renovate the University’s largest freshman residence hall and build a new first-year residence hall.
“GW Housing works with the Residence Life Team, Residence Hall Association and Division of Operations on strategy pertaining to usage of the halls and ways that we can look at building community within the halls,” Seth Weinshel, the assistant dean of housing and financial services, said in an email.
Weinshel said Fulbright Hall will house first-years for the “foreseeable future,” and the University will adjust the hall’s housing costs to mirror other freshman residence options.
The University planned to build a new freshman residence hall on 20th and H streets in anticipation of renovating Thurston Hall but announced that it would expedite the renovations and postpone construction of the new hall in February. Thurston Hall will undergo renovations next academic year and is set to open by 2022.
The University upgraded Fulbright Hall’s bathrooms, air conditioning and community lounges over the past few years and will add new furniture to rooms this summer to accommodate the incoming freshman class, Weinshel said.
“These enhancements enable students to feel a sense of pride in their home away from home, and we want our first-year students to feel that sense of belonging with their fellow students,” Weinshel said.
Freshmen living in Fulbright Hall this academic year lived in four-person studio apartments while upperclassmen lived in triples. Weinshel declined to say why the University decided to convert Fulbright to an all-freshman residence hall.
RHA President Trinity Diaz said housing freshmen in Fulbright Hall means RHA leadership will need to find ways to support Fulbright freshmen living in apartment-style housing.
Diaz added that the building lacks communal lounges and kitchens that other freshman residence halls have, which could prevent students from finding community.
Diaz said using individual kitchens in Fulbright could also be a challenge for freshmen because they receive a smaller meal plan and will have to meal prep and budget for groceries instead of eating out.
Keith Nagy, the RHA president of Fulbright Hall, said the residence hall is not as full as Thurston Hall – which houses about 40 percent of freshmen – and will provide first-year students with a less stressful living environment.
“It’s kind of an escape from the rest of campus, but it’s still in the middle of the action because you’re not too far from District and Marvin,” Nagy said.
He said the Fulbright Hall council will not need to make “drastic adaptations” to programming for freshmen because this year both freshmen and upperclassmen were invited to all RHA social events the organization held for its residents.
“All of our social events are geared towards the entire hall,” Nagy said. “So for Halloween, we passed out candy to all the dorms, regardless of whether they were first-years or second-years. More first-years answered their doors because second-years are busier on average.”
Shlok Babu, a freshman living in Fulbright Hall, said he had trouble finding community in his first semester because the basement lounge in Fulbright is too small to accommodate a lot of people. Babu said the University should add more communal spaces to Fulbright Hall next year to ensure freshmen can get to know one another at home.
“I don’t think there are a lot of spaces to socialize around here, it’s just room-to-room,” Babu said.
Annie Roberts, a freshman in Fulbright Hall, said living as a group of four in a space intended for only three people made the room feel cramped and uncomfortable. She said officials should house no more than three freshmen in a residence hall room this fall.
“One of my roommates moved out halfway through the year and that definitely made it better because four people was really cramped,” she said. “Once it was three people, like I think it was for upperclassmen, it was definitely totally fine.”