Lake, River Halls: Sophomore Thoughts

Eladia Michaels, Contributing Writer

The infamous Tulane crane was where it all began, responsible for the consistent pounding and banging students and faculty have heard for the past year as they passed through campus. The 8 a.m. wake-up calls of drills plowing and hammers clicking all have a purpose in the end. The disruptions around McAlister are slowly halting as Lake and River Halls prepare to serve as the homes for 696 sophomore students. 

Timothy Lempfert, executive director of the department of housing and residence life, provided a brief overview of the amenities Lake and River Halls will provide. Lempfert describes the layout as a “suite-style where two double rooms (four people) will share a bathroom with sinks located in each of the bedrooms”. In addition, there will be 14,000 square feet of gaming rooms, lounges and a movie theater. 

Moving and transitioning living spaces in the middle of the academic year can be seen as a positive by some students but can also be deemed unfortunate by others. 

I spoke to several students, both in Phelps and Irby Hall, who will move into the new dorms in the spring.

Valerie McQuade

Eleanor Fazio, a sophomore residing in Irby Hall, feels excited about this new move, stating that the sanitation of a new dorm will bring a fresh start to the new year. Irby and Phelps Halls occupy suites of eight people split into four bedrooms. Lake and River Halls are constructed so that the suite will be split in half. The new layout will entail four people to a suite with just two bedrooms. 

Because the suite style will be split up, I was curious to know if Fazio believed this would affect her existing friend groups and relationships in her Irby Hall suite. She indicated that it is inevitable for a new living situation to feel different and unfamiliar. 

“I mean, obviously you’re transitioning into a new living dimension basically and [living with] who you’re really connected to tightly, but I don’t think that’s going to affect my friend group or anything like that,” Fazio said. “I do think regardless, like you’re in a new space, it’s going to be different.” 

One of the biggest perks to this change is that students will be all together. Fazio mentioned that the residents in Phelps, Irby and Patterson will all be in one building eventually. With so many students combined into one building, the social dynamics of sophomore students will look different. Fazio spoke on how she believes security will become an overarching priority. 

“I think it’s going to cause a new level of safety and regulation because we will have security unlike here,” Fazio said. “In Irby and Phelps, you’re able to just walk in, like anyone can walk in and that really means anyone can walk in. And that’s not going to fly in this new dorm. There is going to be a more advanced security system which is going to cause a pressure on social life because it’s a lot easier to track the students.”

The majority of the students I have spoken to have shared their frustrations rather than their excitement for this new transition. Connor Gambelin, a sophomore residing in Phelps Hall, feels as though it will be a disruption to move all belongings into a new living space and rebuild a new living environment in the middle of the school year. Gambelin and his suitemates have spent a vast amount of time setting up a comfortable living environment, and the idea of taking it down just to redo feels frustrating. 

In addition, Gambelin said, “What’s very nice about living in Phelps and Irby is that there is no tap-in system so it’s just very convenient to have any guest come over whenever they want. It would be annoying to have to tap someone in and walk down whenever you have guests over.”

It seems as though Irby and Phelps Hall residents share a common struggle in not wanting to split up their existing suites. 

“That’s probably what I will miss the most about Irby — that I just get to be with all my friends in such close proximity,” Claire Spedale, a sophomore residing in Irby Hall, said.

Spedale suggested that the hardest challenge of moving would be “getting distracted from school and exam week,” where students need to add packing up their rooms to their checklist of things to do. 

Irby and Phelps halls have a very special sense of community where balconies act as an area for gathering and socializing. Whether one is reading a book, listening to music or soaking up fresh air, there is always a student on the iconic Irby and Phelps balconies.

“The main thing I’m gonna miss about Irby is the sense of community because everything’s outdoors so you see so many people in passing,” John Giankis, a sophomore residing in Irby Hall, said. “And we’ve all made so many friends here. And so losing that and going into a new dorm with so many question marks, which is not gonna be fun.”

Sophomore Billy Roony shared that he feels as though the construction process seems to be rushed. Since the new building is still undergoing construction, Roony can’t imagine the dorms to be fully complete by the time current sophomores move in for the spring semester.

“I’m sure there’ll be so many factors in the new dorm that won’t be finished,” Rooney said. “It’s like we leave a dorm with full facilities to move into a new dorm with half of the accommodations that we should have. I think that would be ridiculous.” 

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