By Vee Glessner
The buzz around campus is that the new residence hall, T2, is only half-occupied despite the promise of a new fully-inhabited building for incoming and returning students by the start of the fall semester.
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen delays in the construction process, this goal could not be met.
During the summer, the construction crew notified administration that delays would prohibit the building from opening on time.
“It was a tight turnaround with an estimated completion date of Aug.14, and Aug.19 was move-in, so we knew it was super tight,” said Jason Langston, Director of Housing and Residence Life.
“At that time, ERAU directed the construction company to focus on getting the ‘B’ side finalized as soon as possible so students could move in to that half on time.
They agreed and were able to open that half of the building before the freshman class arrived,” says Orientation Leader Lucas Widner.
When Housing found out the building couldn’t be fully opened by the Aug.19 move-in date, they took rooms from side A out of the room selection options to mitigate the inconvenience and achieved a temporary certificate of occupancy for the ‘B’ side.
“We called all of the students to explain what was going on and receive questions. We sent emails, letters, and really tried to over-communicate,” said Langston.
The students that will be housed in the “A” side of the building are temporarily living in Mingus Mountain Halls 3 through 5.
Displaced students are sleeping in the lounge rooms of those Mingus suites, accommodated by temporary privacy doors and the beds that will eventually occupy their rooms in T2.
“Once it was confirmed it was going to be late, we went ahead and converted the lounges in Halls 3 through 5.
The math worked well: students from the ‘A’ side were able to move into 3 through 5 almost exactly, and we were able to keep roommates together,” said Langston.
The freshmen still got to experience the first few weeks adjusting to a new roommate and are housed with other freshmen, which made this the ideal solution.
This unique group of freshmen get to be part of two communities, Mingus and T2, and have the opportunity to make additional friends with the suites they are currently living in.
The construction is projected to be complete in early- to mid-September, with students moving in over the next few weeks.
Housing needs to secure a certificate of occupancy before anyone can move into the new construction and will notify T2A occupants as soon as it is received.
Although some parents were unhappy they couldn’t see their student’s final room before they left campus, displaced students and the residents of suites now housing them are reacting fairly positively, in part due to the way that Housing has handled the situation.
“Everyone has been generally understanding and appreciative that Housing has communicated with them so often and done as much as they could to make the most out of this situation,” says Widner.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that both parties are being financially compensated for the inconvenience.
When the construction is complete, there will be a transition period where the displaced furniture is moved out of Mingus and into T2.
This process will be executed in waves: about one-third of the T2A furniture is in storage, and the rest is in Mingus with the displaced students.
”We have to move the furniture in, move a third of the people over, then move their furniture,” said Langston.
Then, the Mingus lounges will be re-furnished with the standard accommodations, which Facilities has stored in the meantime.
“I have heard more grumblings from them [Mingus occupants], and I understand that they are not getting the lounge that they expected. We have done lots to mitigate that, including extra money on the dining cards for snacks,” Langston says.
There has also been a microwave placed in the Hall 5 lounge for use by these students.
Though T2 will be occupied in a few weeks, the outside of the building will need a little more time.
The metal paneling meant to be used on the outside was damaged in transit, so more has to be special-ordered.
“There will be some delays on the outside of the building, but nothing that impacts the livability,” Langston reassures us.
The roof is finished and weather-ready; the missing panels are primarily for aesthetic purposes.
Overall, displaced students have had primarily understanding and positive reactions.
For the most part, they’re just excited to move into their new building as soon as it’s finished.
Thanks to communication from Housing and agile accommodations by Facilities, the impact of the construction delay has been minimized.