Eclectic, 200 Church St. and Westco will soon feature kitchens and handicapped-accessible bathrooms as part of a broad Student Life Facilities initiative to renovate and expand student lounge spaces over this summer. Plans to upgrade other student residential facilities are in the works, according to Associate Director Jeff Miller of ResLife.
“Every residential hall needs a kitchen similar to Clark Hall,” Miller said.
According to Miller, the construction project would also install a new floor surface, add new lounge furniture and renovate the upstairs bathroom in 200 Church. The budget for the work in 200 Church is $300,000.
Jeffrey Sweet, Manager of Student Life Facilities, hired an architect who consulted with students on specific details of the plans. The designs for the renovation projects will come directly from students, Miller said.
“Student input into these projects has been great,” said Nathan Victoria ’05, Chair of WSA’s Finances and Facilities Committee (FiFaC). “I’ve been really happy about it. Hopefully, they will continue as planned.”
“It’s really exciting for us,” said Eclectic President Elaine Garven ’05. “We’re thrilled.”
Garven added that she understands the cost to be $35,000 for the kitchen and $25,000 for the work on the Eclectic bathrooms.
Additionally, Westco will undergo significant changes, dividing its lounge spaces into two areas with specific purposes. Westco’s lounge will be designed to be more comfortable, with better furniture, a game table and a larger television screen.
Westco Café will also be revamped into an activity area without substantial furniture or a television, which will provide space for student bands, dance groups and others.
The bar in Westco Café and the equipment in the back of the kitchen area will be removed to make way for storage and bar countertops. Meanwhile, the front side of the room will feature a larger stage area and new lighting.
“We’ll be adding a kitchen to Westco lounge this summer, with a large countertop that comes out into the dining area so you can sit on a stool and eat there,” Miller said. “The budget is probably in the same ballpark as 200 Church.”
For years, the planned renovation had been circulating without effect.
“Major Maintenance Committee has such a limited budget that student concerns would fall below the line,” Victoria said.
Maureen Isleib, Director of ResLife, noted that there was a lot of concern about student common spaces.
“Last year, the Student Life Committee addressed this issue,” Isleib said. “Dean Patton really pushed to make some upgrades for Eclectic and 200 Church.”
Dean Patton helped put the renovations at the top of Student Life Facilities’ priority list, Isleib noted.
“Peter Patton has been the strongest advocate of this,” Miller said. “He said, ‘We need to do something significant in our lounge spaces.’ He should get a lot of credit for this.”
Miller then conducted an inventory of all student lounge spaces and made determinations as to what Wesleyan residential halls seemed to lack.
So far the process has run smoothly, marked by cooperation between university administrators and students to expedite the renovation project. A student representative is now on the Major Maintenance Committee, and Miller continues to meet with student groups.
According to Miller, the work will be done by the time students return to campus next semester. And based on the success of this initial project, Miller hopes to continue upgrading the remaining residential lounge spaces over the next few years.
“After four to five years, all our lounges will look good,” Miller said.