Construction (Dys)function

By: Samantha Cooper

At the beginning of this school year, Pagliaro-Selz Hall opened, completing Goucher’s first phase of renovations. A website detailing the progress is available, and includes layout blue prints can be found here.

When President José Bowen arrived at Goucher College in 2014 he asked to be taken around campus and shown all the buildings. During this tour, he concluded that Stimson Hall, one of the oldest dorms on campus did need to be renovated. Replacing or renovating Stimson has been a wish of many Goucher students over the years. It was assumed that the dorm would be the first to go.

He explained why this was not the case, “We hired an architect and we said we wanted to replace Stimson. The architects correctly told us that in order to replace Stimson, you had to build something else first. Otherwise, there’s no place to live.” Since Stimson also houses the main dining hall and Hillel, these functions need to be replaced before the building is torn down.

Stimson at its current capacity can house 275 students. When there were triples, the dorm housed around 375 students. When the First Year Village is complete it will have 440 beds, the most of any single building on campus.

Bowen also stated that when they were looking into building more housing, they wanted to keep it within the Loop Road. While other areas were considered including the Great Lawn, the space Pagliaro-Selz is currently occupying was considered ideal.

However, the size of land meant that the building had to have small double rooms, communal bathrooms and kitchens. The layout described is more idea for First Years, according to the faculty, who need to adjust to living away from home and socialize with their peers. Upperclassmen, they said, are more likely to want apartment style living or singles where they can prepare themselves for living situations they might encounter in the “real world.”

“Stimson,” Bowen said, “is better for apartments because of the location.” The area where Stimson is now, is the largest of all the dorms on campus. Stimson is closer to the student parking lot, another perk for upperclassmen students.  Dean Bryan Coker and Associate Dean of Students for Community Living Stacy Cooper Patterson responded similarly to questions about the living situation.

The next part of the First Year Village will start construction in the fall. During the summer, the Froelicher dorm will be moved across the road, a distance of about 50 yards. Linda Barone the associate director for facilities planning, explained the process, saying that the buildings will be put on to trucks and driven the short distance before being placed on new basements with new equipment. Otherwise, the dorms will not be heavily renovated. The Froelicher building will become First Year housing, due to its proximity to Pagliaro-Selz.

Upperclassmen students will still be placed in Stimson next semester. Typically, only around fifty or sixty non-commuting upper classmen are permitted to live off campus and this number is not expected to change. Dean Bryan Coker said this was due to Goucher community values: “[Letting more students live off campus] starts to chip away at our residential focus and our residential nature. It’s a fundamentally huge part of what Goucher is.”

A very large part of the construction project is the Athletic Master Plan, which is slated to take around twenty or thirty years to complete. Bowen said, “We need to have a plan for all the different parts.” He cited an incident at another college he worked at where a set of tennis courts were built and then torn down because the school realized that they needed to build something else in that space. The Master Plan will not be completed until enough donations are received.

Barone expanded on this, “That’s just kind of a block of time because we don’t know when everything will be funded… You want to have a bigger plan so you know how all those things will fit in with one another so that you don’t do something that precludes you from doing it.”

However, it seems as though students are still upset about the changes. Former Student President Deanna Galer, ’17 said, “I think a lot of students frame it as a competition for resources…So, right now it seems like resources are scarce and creates a dynamic wherein the average student can say, ‘Wait, why are we doing this all for our athletes?’ But then you really have be thoughtful and remember that athletes make up over a quarter of out population and for them to be able to practice their sports safely they need proper facilities.”

Student government members commented that they were well aware of the issues at hand. Lee Block ’20, the Chairmen of the Student Life Committee said, “[The construction] pissed a lot of people off especially given people who were living in Mary Fisher and Heubeck. But they were pretty miffed given they have to get up at 7 in the morning to the sound of jackhammers, not exactly a pleasurable experience.” According to Dean Coker, a warning was given to those living in Mary Fisher about construction during room draw. No students could be interviewed at this time about the subject. Block also said the Student Life Committee will be working to provide an easy transition into the new buildings.

The final major concern regarded accessibility at Goucher College. Many of the buildings at Goucher are not handicap-accessible meaning they do not have elevators, hallways that can properly for wheelchairs, or signs for visually impaired. These buildings are also not up to standard fire code, since they were grandfathered in due to being built before existing ADA codes were developed.

In late fall 2016, Goucher also did renovations on Van Meter that could not wait until break due to weather and time concerns. The section of Van Meter in front of the Athenaeum was closed off to students and traffic was redirected to the path in front of it. While many students were upset with the inconvenience it caused them and the gas leak that followed, other students were more heavily affected.

One of these students was Tori Bounds ’19, who is visually impaired and has a guide dog, Able to help her navigate the campus. When the construction was happening, she was not aware of the change. Able paused when he saw the barriers jutting on to the walkway and would not let her continue walking. Bounds said she waited until she heard other people using the walk way and then followed them.

“One of the biggest issues was that I didn’t get a notice about the changes in the pathways I was supposed to be using…cause if I had known I could have tried to prepare a bit more,” she said. She originally did not report the issue as she had had issues with accessibility at Goucher before, somebody else ended up making the complaint for her.

The path was fixed; the barriers were moved and lights were installed. She was happy that it was changed but said that she wanted Goucher to take more accountability: “I want them to admit, yes this was a problem. Sorry, we’re gonna fix it rather than just saying ‘It’s taken care of like it never happened…’ I feel like there isn’t much of a dialogue there and that’s how the issues arise.” She also that she still loves Goucher and that no school is perfect.

In order to better help students, Goucher has hired a Director of Accessibility Services, Arnelle Hanley. Her position is a new one on campus and she was not on campus last semester. Hanely said, “Yes, it’s unfortunate that the student had to encounter that but it was a learning experience for the college which is now going forward as they make these construction changes they going to have in the front of their minds as their creating paths.”

Students who will be at Goucher in 2018, will be able to reap many of the rewards of the dealing with the construction as they will be able to experience the new dining facilities in Pearlstone. The new facility will be accessibility friendly and have two floors; the first will have grab and go items, as well as quick foods like burgers and fries while the upstairs will have several dining options including a Mongolian grill, pizza and a salad bar. As of right now, what will happen to Alice’s is unclear, as well as if the new dining area will result in meal plan changes.

The total costs for the construction changes, according to President Bowen, is as follows: Pagliaro-Selz is going cost around 17.2 million dollars. This actually comes out cheaper than what was originally planned.The Mary Fisher Dining area is going to cost 23 million dollars. The Hoffberger addition will be 27 million dollars and the Interfaith Center will be 3.3 million dollars. The renovation (and move) of Froelicher is currently estimated to be about eight million dollars. Because it is still early in the process, some of these prices may change.





Leave a Reply