By Gia Pilgrim, Assistant Editor
Due to a decrease in enrollment, Lockwood Hall at The University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) is currently facing its third year of being shut down; but President Kathryn Foster is working with staff, students and faculty to develop a plan to renovate Lockwood into an “apartment style”, student-run, gender-neutral facility with the choice to opt out of a meal-plan.
Celeste Branham, vice president for student and community services, held an open session with students and staff recently to discuss the proposal of cooperative living in the unoccupied residence hall. Braham explained that the first floor would be the initial order of renovating. Many walls in the building would need to be demolished to create a large space for a successful kitchen and possible dining room. The rooms within the facility would be mainly singles with an option of having a roommate.
“Our hopes are to bring students back onto campus,” Braham explained. The mandatory, added price of Aramark’s meal plans to residential living has deterred potential students from living on campus.
An off-campus student, Lauren Crosby, expressed her approval of the plan, but kept the idea of costs in mind. “For this to be successful, I think the price of living [in Lockwood] would have to be similar to the price of renting an apartment in town,” she said. “I would much rather be spending my money towards the university than to a scummy landlord.”
Braham noted that the price of living in Lockwood Hall would be the same cost as a single room in any UMF residence hall. Lockwood Hall can house approximately 100 students within its walls. The topic of student selection was proposed by Braham, and the students favored the idea of upperclassmen taking responsibility for this new facility. The possibility of a GPA standard of 2.75 was debated as being an effective standard.
Student Senator Isaiah Spofford attended another recent open session with President Foster where the idea of Lockwood Hall was addressed. “The [Campus Residence Council] mentioned positive and negative aspects about the idea,” he said. “Lockwood has the old tradition of a “party dorm hall” that could carry on to the new facility.” The absence of community assistants (CA’s) would be a brand new situation to residence living at UMF.
Brian Ufford, Director of Housing and Residence Life, expressed his confidence in student-run housing working from a similar experience working at Oregon State University. “Students will have higher standards to live by,” he explained. “They will have responsibilities to attend to, and if they aren’t, they’ll get voted off the island.”
In an email, Ufford explained that Lockwood’s location is conveniently in “the heart of campus” and “close to very convenient parking.”
“When this is added to all the amenities of cable, internet, electricity, water, trash and others I feel that the location offers a wonderful opportunity,” he said.
Braham believes that if action is taken soon, Lockwood Hall’s new facility will be open by Fall 2015. “It’s ambitious,” she said, “but I think we can do it.”