Lafayette Hall reopens a semester earlier

Emma Tanner, News Editor

In fall of 2021, UNA’s Housing and Residence Life submitted their plan to renovate Lafayette Hall. In the plan, the residence hall would reopen in fall of 2022. Renovations would focus on the building’s exterior and the communal bathrooms. However, since the start of this semester, students have begun filling up the halls sans-renovation.

Lafayette Hall is the university’s Honors College dormitory and has been home to UNA students since 2006. It is situated between the Guillot University Center and Powers Hall, right in the heart of campus. The residence hall houses two floors of students (about 58) and is co-ed by floor. Similar to Rice and Rivers, it is community-style and has communal bathrooms. The ground floor of the hall isn’t open to just residents, however. Lafayette is also home to the Honors College main offices.

Any honors student can access the study rooms, computer lab, or game room on the first floor. One of the biggest amenities to honors students is the price of living in Lafayette. It is roughly a hundred dollars cheaper than Rivers and is intended to be exclusively for Honors College students.

LaGrange Hall, UNA’s former all-female dorms, was to be the focus after Lafayette’s renovation. With the bypassing of the Honors College dorms, focus has shifted back to LaGrange.

“As UNA began exploring renovation plans for LaGrange, it became apparent that it would be a wiser investment in our students and facilities to rebuild LaGrange and increase our Honors housing community,” said Housing and Residence Life Director Jennifer Sutton.

“This impacted the projects planned for Lafayette and allowed us to reopen the community for spring semester.” UNA has many renovations planned for the coming years. LaGrange seems to be just the beginning of housing expansion.

“UNA is currently exploring design plans that include rebuilding LaGrange Hall and developing a wider array of housing options for the Honors community,” Sutton said. “We look forward to working with the university community as this project progresses.”

An issue that HRL seems to be facing is the influx of new international students enrolled for the spring semester, over 120 to be exact. With the new addition of students, housing may end up being an issue. Similar to LaGrange’s reopening in 2015, Lafayette could be reopening to allow more room for the new students to have proper residences.

“We are very excited to have a significant increase in residential students this semester, including international students. New students have been accommodated throughout our residential communities including apartments and residence halls,” Sutton said. “We aspire to create a variety of housing opportunities that are designed to create a supportive, encouraging, and educational experience for all students.”

Marco Hatton is an honors student and junior at UNA who moved into Lafayette this semester. He lived in Rivers during the Fall 2021 semester.

“[Lafayette] is pretty similar to Rivers, actually. Eerily similar when I think about it,” Hatton said. “It’s not bad, but it could definitely be better.” Lafayette has begun to show signs of age. One of the main focuses of the original plan was the bathrooms, and students still take notice of their less than-ideal quality.

“It would be lovely if the bathrooms were higher quality,” Hatton said.

“There’s some issues of sanitation. The person that comes up to clean, she does very well, but there’s definitely some areas that get dirty very fast.”

Hatton has noticed an increase in international students’ presence in Lafayette. According to him, around six to eight international students are being housed in Lafayette. Considering the limited capacity of roughly fifty students that can live in the dorm, that is a fairly significant number.

“Honors students who wanted to live in Lafayette were instead moved to the seventh and eighth floors of Rivers, but over winter break, they opened up Lafayette again for people to move back in,” Hatton said. “I’ve heard that is because they wanted to make room for the international students. Basically, they got so many international students that they opened all possible rooms, so they asked any of the honors students who wanted to move back into Lafayette.

They replaced those that did move out of Rivers with international students. Any spare rooms in Lafayette were filled with international students.”

The increase of international students has posed some slight problems, but perhaps it has opened a new window into larger-scale renovations on the campus.