Students registering for housing this week might notice that Belk Residence Hall is still offline. Administration claimed earlier that it would return online this year, but Eddie Young, director of residence life, says it will reopen in fall 2015 with minor repairs because there are already enough rooms to accomodate everyone on campus and a few years of enrollment growth.
Bill Nichols, vice president for campus planning and services, confirmed this, saying that there are approximately 150 empty beds on campus right now, just over 80 of those are in Belk. Young said taking one dorm offline is a more financially sound decision than having those empty beds spread throughout campus.
“A lot of it comes down to the numbers,” said Young.
If Belk had remained open, Young said, there would be costs associated with utilities, like electricity and water, as well as the cost of hiring residence assistants for the dorm. With Belk offline, those empty beds do not cost the university as much money.
Young said some repairs have been done in Belk, but no major renovations have been completed. He said most of the repairs involve cleaning up paint on walls, working on pipes and adding shower curtains in the bathrooms in place of the glass doors that were there before.
Nichols said some other smaller renovations are expected before Belk reopens, including renovating the bathrooms and lobby area and putting a front porch on the building. Nichols agreed, however, that most of the changes in Belk will be minor repair type changes.
Nichols said that, based on enrollment projections, the University should need to bring Belk back online in the fall of 2015, adding that if enrollment projections continue as expected, we can expect four more halls in the next 10-15 years.
Young said that when Belk comes back online, it might not be a freshman dorm.
“I’m all for reimagining places,” he said.
He added that being new is a good thing because it means he doesn’t feel attached to the way things have been done in the past and he is open to making changes. He said no definite plans to change Belk’s residents have been set, but it is possible that it could become a living-learning community with faculty and classroom spaces or that it could be turned into upperclassmen housing.
Nichols said that the purpose of South hall was to try to keep more older students on campus and it has been successful in that.
“Having them on campus adds immensely to campus life,” he said.