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Tulane is planning two major campus changes: the construction of two volleyball courts on Bruff Quad by next semester and the construction of a new residence hall on Zimple Quad for the year 2014-15. 

Tulane will build two sand volleyball courts on Bruff Quad in preparation for the new sand volleyball team, and the Office of the University Architect and Campus Planning is in the planning and schematic stage for a new residence hall to be located on Zimple Quad.

With the introduction of a sand volleyball team, Tulane Athletics will fulfill the NCAA Division I requirement of 16 athletic teams for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. 

“This is the first year sand volleyball is a championship sport in the NCAA,” Associate Athletic Director of Communication Roger Dunnaway said. “We already had the student athletes since the [indoor] volleyball team’s season is in the fall, and it’s a very popular Olympic sport and club sport so it made sense. We’re eventually going to recruit players for just sand volleyball, but right now, we already have the student athletes.”

After Tulane cut down the number of athletic teams to eight following Hurricane Katrina, the NCAA gave Tulane a five-year grace period to get back to 16 teams.

“The decision to build volleyball courts on Bruff Quad was based on the necessity of providing sand volleyball facilities meeting NCAA regulations and of bringing Tulane back to Division I standards,” said Collette Creppell, university architect and director of campus planning. “Site selection criteria included site availability and an on-campus location to allow access to – and joint use by – both varsity athletes and all other students.”

Members of the Undergraduate Student Government said Tulane officials did not ask for student leaders’ opinions before deciding to build the courts on Bruff Quad. A few weeks ago, campus officials approached a few USG members asking what they would like to see around the new courts. At last week’s USG meeting, the student government passed legislation voicing its disapproval of the Bruff Quad location, citing a shortage in available lawn areas.

“Basically, our concern comes from the lack of green space here on campus,” USG Vice President of Student Life Michael Lewis said. “I think everyone at the university knows that space is an issue here because we’re in an urban uptown environment. So I think that students don’t feel this is the best use of this space and would like to see the university investigate other places.”

Executive Associate Athletic Director Brandon Macneill said that he will meet with Lewis, USG President Evan Nicoll and Residence and Housing Association President Cristina Roe-Guerra today to discuss any problems they have with the plan and to clear up any miscommunication.

“It came as a shock to me that anyone had an issue with it,” Macneill said. “But the last thing we want to do is alienate the students, so if there are some roadblocks or potential obstacles, we’ll figure it out one way or another.”

Macneill said that volleyball players will use the courts for two-and-a-half hours most days of the week during the volleyball season, but students are free to use them at all other times.

Tulane students have mixed opinions about the Bruff Quad volleyball courts.

“I like the idea,” sophomore Abbie Judice said. “I like that people can go outside and use [the courts], but if it were my quad, I might be mad. I live in Mayer House, and I like the area behind the dorm.”

Sophomore Andrew Snedeker, who lives in Irby House, which borders Bruff Quad, said his approval is conditional.

“I like to lie outside on [Bruff Quad],” Snedeker said. “I feel like if they just slap on the volleyball court, I wouldn’t like it, but if they do something around it, it would be good.”

Creppell said that while design of the court is determined by the NCAA standards, students can contribute their ideas to the area surrounding the court.

“Planning and design of the areas surrounding the courts…is not so fixed and is not yet complete,” Creppell said. “Students have become and will continue to be involved in the phased improvements planned for the areas around the courts.”

Tulane is also planning on building a new residence hall on Zimple Quad for the 2014-15 academic year. Ross Bryan, associate vice president of Student Affairs

for Housing and Residence Life, said that the new dorm would likely be intended for upperclassmen.

“The university has a need and has made a commitment to adding beds to our inventory to support our academic mission and institutional goals,” Creppell said. “The benefits of having more students live on campus are many, and the new residence hall on the Zimple site will help to realize these benefits.”

Creppell said that Zimple Quad is the only site available for construction on the middle campus, but its location across the street from The Boot may present future issues.

“Planning for the new residence hall on the Zimple site has taken into consideration the proximity of the commercial uses across Zimple Street, including The Boot,” Creppell said. “Student rooms will be located on upper floors, and student spaces will be oriented toward the campus and away from the street.  Other design features, both physical and acoustical, will be used to mitigate the street noise and activities.”