Olive Hall opening January 2016

Construction workers complete final details on Olive Hall behind the Student Recreation Center. Director of University Residences Kevin Jacques said freshman students currently living in Rivers Hall will move into Olive Hall before the spring semester begins in January.

by News Editor Anna Brown

Officials said UNA’s state-of-the-art residence hall construction project will be completed this fall.

Olive should be completed before the end of the fall semester, said Director of University Residences Kevin Jacques. Olive Hall is nearly identical to Mattielou.

“The noticeable difference is that Mattielou has a common area on one wing, whereas Olive will have a common area on two wings,” Jacques said.

He said students seem to enjoy the common areas of the building.

“I think we’ve done a really good thing for the students,” Jacques said. “I think we’ve created modern, up-to-date, safe facilities that are attractive to our students and are conducive to community building. Hopefully (the new residence halls) will help students feel that UNA is their home away from home.”

Freshman students Jonathan Wells and Kristen Bennett both said they enjoy hanging out and studying with friends in the common areas of Mattielou Hall.

Wells said he likes the modern look of Mattielou.

“I like it all because it’s bigger-spaced than the other dorms,” he said. “I also like that it has a common area on each floor versus one for two floors like Rice and Rivers.” he said.

Wells said he often spends his late nights studying with friends in the common room on his floor.

Bennett said she also likes the layout of the rooms.

“I also really like that we have our own bathrooms,” she said.

As of Aug. 15, the collective residence hall project was 85 percent complete, said Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs Clinton Carter.

As of that date, the cost expenditures of the project were about $900,000 below budget, Carter said.

Carter said in an email that the cost underage is due to good weather, a lack of change orders or unexpected problems like underground rock and improper design that can sometimes happen during construction projects.

The excess funds from the residence hall project will be used to begin construction on a new parking lot on Circular Road and expanding the pedestrian walkway there, he said.

While the building will be complete before the fall semester ends, students will not move in until a few days before classes resume for the spring, he said.

“Instead of pushing it and trying to ask students to stay later from break, we’re going to wait until afterward and have them come back a few days early if they’re not already here to move their stuff over,” Jacques said.

The move-in event will not be as large as the fall 2015 move-in day, but he said he hopes to have several volunteers on campus to help students move their belongings from Rivers to Olive.

Both Mattielou and Olive will serve as co-ed, freshman-only residence halls, Jacques said. The rooms are designed to accommodate a co-ed living space.

After freshmen move out of Rivers, it will close for the spring semester, he said. LaGrange Hall will also go offline for the spring. He said there are no current plans to renovate or demolish LaGrange.

Upperclassmen will continue living in Rice during the spring, he said. Next fall, Rivers will become the main upperclassman building with Rice as additional space.

“We wanted to do this with Rivers because it’s a little bigger and a little more recently updated,” he said.

Junior Khazil Guyman said he thinks the rooms and bathrooms in Rice need repair. He said he knows another student resident who found mold in his room.

“I’ve lived in Rivers,” he said. “This (room in Rice) is like a jail cell. My room in Rivers was more like a room at home.”

Freshman Tycoria Johnson said she thinks upperclassmen should live in the new residence halls.

“I think it would make more sense for upperclassmen to have the new dorms,” she said. “They’ve been here longer. It makes more sense because there are so many more upperclassmen.”