On Tuesday night, Assistant Vice President for Campus Life Katie Callow-Wright and Interim Director of Undergraduate Student Housing Ana Campos held an open forum with Pierce residents to answer their questions following last week’s announcement that the dorm would be closed at the end of this academic year. After the forum, the Maroon had a conversation with a small group of Pierce residents to hear their thoughts and lingering uncertainties. Here are some highlights of the chat:
Chicago Maroon: When you first heard the news about Pierce’s upcoming closure, how did you feel?
Cameron Rodgers: I wasn’t particularly surprised, because they told us about the possibility last year. I expected it was going to happen either this year or next year. It would have been better if the news had been delivered in a more professional manner, but it wasn’t surprising.
Neaka Mohtashemi: I was saddened to hear it just because I’ve fallen in love with Pierce so quickly, and I sort of wish that I’d had more time to be in Pierce. I would’ve liked to come back to this particular building and this special community next year.
CM: What makes it special?
Neaka: I don’t know, I think just the way that everyone interacts in Pierce. The ridiculous closeness that you have with everyone really makes it special, and I don’t think it can really be replicated in any other building, just because I don’t think they’ll ever make a building with rooms this tiny that will force us out of them.
Tyler Wojak: Don’t give them any ideas.
CM: As a first-year, did you feel at all blindsided by the news?
Josh Berlind: A little bit. I mean, when we were doing our housing application it didn’t say “Pierce [with an asterisk], possibly getting torn down after this year.”
Cristian Saucedo: It would’ve been nice to know the possibility before we signed up to live here.
CM: What made you guys choose Pierce to begin with?
Sam Taylor: It’s a good size—not too big, not too small. There are enough people here that there’s always someone new to meet, but it’s not like there are so many people that you’re getting lost and swallowed up.
Josh: Plus it had that reputation as a social dorm, and I didn’t want to be shut in my room the whole time here.
Cameron: Also, it was close to campus and had a dining hall in the basement. [All: The dining hall!] And the fact that those won’t be part of the dorm next year is a definite departure from the reasons I chose Pierce last year.
CM: Pierce residents are headed to I-House or New Grad next year. How do you guys feel about those options?
Josh: I-House is supposed to be pretty crappy.
Cristian: Yeah, I’d be fine with New Grad. After hearing our RH talk about it, it seemed like a nice place. It’s kind of far, but I can deal with it. The rooms are nice, and it’s going to be changed to undergraduate housing next year. And the house will be kept together, even if it has to combine with another house, so it’ll still be a lot of the same people.
Sam: ...if everybody doesn’t move to apartments.
CM: Have you first-years had to think about moving into an apartment earlier than you otherwise would have?
Sam: It’s definitely been put on the table, and I don’t think it was before. Now it’s a consideration—maybe not such a huge consideration, but it’s now an option that I was not considering before.
Samantha Throsby: I think a lot of the first-years in particular are worrying about the fact that, because so many of us are thinking about moving out, the atmosphere in our house would be lost. So I think that’s making people think twice.
Cameron: Yeah, as a second-year, I was already planning on moving to an apartment at some point, but this kind of just solidified that. If Pierce were staying open for another year, I certainly would stay in Pierce, but a lot of the value of living here is in the building itself, in the location. If we’re in a different dorm, those things will be quite different, and I’d rather just be in an apartment at that point.
CM: So, since you would’ve left housing eventually anyway, is it fair to say you feel saddened by the news but not necessarily impacted?
Cameron: Yeah, I’m definitely disappointed that I don’t get to spend another year in Pierce…which is kind of shocking given its history.
CM: What are your thoughts on Tuesday night’s open meeting with Housing administrators?
Sam: I guess it was helpful. They really did just tell us a lot of stuff we already knew, before it descended into a finger-pointing fest. Hopefully they got a vibe for how people were feeling and took that into consideration, even if it was a little bit over-the-top.
CM: This was a lot of your first run-ins with administration. What is your impression of them based on what you saw at the meeting?
Sam: I wouldn’t discredit them as much as some might, because it is difficult, of course, when they’re running a university, to expect them to run everything by the students. Obviously, that’s not going to work. It’s their university, and they’re going to do what they have to do. That said, it’s definitely not the best way they could’ve handled it, at least not when compared with the original plan. [Editor’s note: Callow-Wright claimed at the open forum that the initial plan was to make the announcement ninth week, and that it would have been accompanied by the release of online FAQs, information, and other resources which have not yet been made available to Pierce residents.]
Cameron: I definitely felt like it was just a continuation of the problems we had last year with communication. We were told that they hadn’t decided where we’d be moved yet, and that they weren’t positive that Pierce would be torn down. On the other hand, President Zimmer was absolutely positive, which is a little strange.