Before the first wave of students had moved into the new Alan Earp residence, plans were already underway to construct yet another residence. “We had anticipated moving on immediately to begin construction of additional residences,” said David Atkinson, Brock University president, in the Sept. 11 edition of the President’s Newsletter. But since then, plans for construction of a new building have been put on hold, and it appears likely that the university will go ahead with plans to renovate the Village residences.
The current plan will combine the “D” room and the storage room, to create one large room that will house two students. The newsletter notes that this will allow for the addition of 160 more beds, but that number could increase to 180 beds if every residence is converted.
“At this point we are going court to court to verify the room measurements, where jacks are, where the window is,” said Jamie Fleming, director of residences and food services.
Fleming also noted that the renovations would take place over the summer and the new double occupancy rooms that the plans call for would be ready for next September. With the double cohort of both Grade 12 and OAC students coming to Brock next year, the shortage of residence space at Brock has become apparent.
Brock’s residence situation was further complicated by last April’s closure of Queenston residence, which was home to 237 students. The loss was cancelled out by the building of the 255 bed Earp residence, but in spite of the new building, 700 Brock students found themselves on a residence waiting list over the summer.
“Many of those people don’t get into residence and we know that the university is planning to take more year one students next year and substantially more in 2003,” said Fleming.
With residences generally reserved for first-year students, the university has a glaring need for additional beds. Christina Robic, a first-year accounting student who currently resides in a “D” room, had a mixed reaction to the plans.
“I can understand because the D room is bigger … I can see why it would cross their minds and I can see how it would be beneficial,” she said.
None the less, both Robic and her housemate Diana Gonzalez flatly rejected the idea of sharing a “D” room, even in return for reduced residence fees. Although all Village residences are equipped with two washrooms, there is only one shower, one stove, and one fridge. Fleming noted this, but indicated there would simply be one more person sharing the same amount of space and no further changes in that regard were planned.
Both Robic and Gonzalez said that fridge and freezer space would be a serious issue in a five-person village house. “I’ve never had a problem the shower, or the living room, or cooking or the bathroom, but the fridge, that could be a problem … you would have to get your own fridge,” said Robic. She also expressed a concern that the expansion of “D” room was simply impractical.
“You want to fit two beds, two closets, two desks. No, it’s not going to fit,” said Robic. “My room, plus the storage area … is like two-thirds the size of the double rooms in DeCew.”
Another concern was that the removal of the storage room would mean students would have to store extra household items in their bedrooms. While there is another storage room on the main floor, it contains the cleaning supplies and the vacuum. Students who live in “B” room, the smallest of the Village rooms, would more than likely have issues with having to store more belongings in already cramped quarters.
Gonzalez noted that this issue could be resolved if the residents were given access to the basement, which currently is inaccessible to students, and is a comparatively large space holding only a water heater.
Fleming said that there are no plans to build new residences or renovate any of the other three existing residences due to the strains such a move would place on food services. Between the Vallee, DeCew and Earp residences, there are already more than 900 students currently using food services.
Should the planned renovations go through, it would raise the number of students in Village to between 878 and 898, almost as many students as in the three residences combined. Village rooms currently cost $3,220 annually, the highest rate for any residence, and are likely to go up next year, according to Fleming. As a result, the university would profit not only from the additional students the double rooms would house, but also the additional rent collected. While Village rooms will likely increase in cost, Fleming says the double rooms will cost less than other Village units.