New UNA residence hall boasts exciting features

UNA’s new residence hall

Hard hats, loud machines and plenty of air conditioning greet the few permitted to enter the freshmen-only residence halls on Mattielou and Olive streets. The hall located on Mattielou is furthest along, with most drywall, plumbing and electrical installed.

While “Mattielou” will be finished in time for the fall semester, Director of Residence Life Kevin Jacques said “Olive” may not be finished until December. He said incoming freshmen not placed in “Mattielou” will live in Rivers Hall until construction is complete.

“I’m really excited about the features of the new residence halls,” said incoming freshman Jenna Thigpen. “It all just seems really convenient. I think it’s cool we get to be the first ones to use them, too.”

The halls may seem vaguely reminiscent of the Hawthorne and Covington cluster dorms, however inside the structure is vastly different.

Each floor is divided into two wings with one resident adviser being positioned on each wing, Jacques said. He said about 320 students can be housed in the four-floor dorm.

The dual wing split is not the only fresh feature incorporated into the dorms, he said.

“In between each of these rooms is the HVAC system,” Jacques said. “In Hawthorne in Covington, it’s actually in the bedrooms so every time (maintenance) has to change filters, they have to go in there and disturb the students. Here, it’s all in the hallway.”

Junior Darien Harris said he hoped Residence Life would consider putting larger trash cans in the bathrooms, however that request may not be necessary.

Different from Rice, Rivers and Lafayette Halls, the hall temporarily referred to as “Mattielou” offers each room its own bathroom complete with shower, toilet, sink and mirror.

“I like that the sink is outside of the bathroom,” Jacques said. “I can be brushing my teeth, shaving (or) whatever while my roommate is showering.”

Harris said he hopes the new residence halls will offer benefits not provided to freshmen previously.

“I’d like to see individualized study areas,” Harris said.

Junior Sarah McNeely said she agreed with Harris because freshmen can have a difficult time locating stable study environments.

“I believe study rooms to be helpful because, from experience, the library tends to be full and you can only have it for a certain period of time,” she said. “By having the study rooms closer and more accessible I think it will help provide a peaceful atmosphere to study. Sometimes your room isn’t a quiet place to do so.”

While a study room is available on the ground floor of Mattielou, Jacques said they hoped to focus more on group studying and an open concept.

Each room in the dorms also has a new type of carpeting to make messes easier on students’ pocketbooks, Jacques said.

“The nice thing about the square carpet in each room is that, say you have an accident and you spill red Kool-Aid all over the floor — we can just pull up one square of carpet,” he said. “So instead of charging you $400 to redo an entire room, we’re charging you $25 to replace a square.”

Though Harris has spent his time at UNA living in Rice Hall where floors have no carpet, he said he believes this particular carpet can benefit freshmen who do not think about messes.

“I think the squared carpet is a great effort to avoid high cost and fees for the upkeep of the dorms,” Harris said.

Like Harris, incoming freshman Jenna Thigpen said the carpet square concept is an important feature.

“I’m used to having carpet, and it’s really frustrating to stain floors because you can’t really do anything about it unless you want to replace the majority of it,” she said.

The laundry machines in “Mattielou” hall double the amount of Rice and Rivers halls. Laundry machines can be found in the main lobby along with a receptionist area, lounge, game area with pool table, all-glass windows and an open-style study area capable of handling groups.

On each floor, a lounge area separates the two wings, with a large TV and a view overlooking the baseball field and football practice field.

In addition to standard-size rooms, Mattielou also has multiple ADA-approved rooms with doorways and showers capable of wheelchair access.

“I think (these features) make staying on campus more appealing to incoming freshmen,” Thigpen said. “It’s cool to get to be a part of the changes going on at UNA. I can’t wait to live there.”