by NYAH HIZER & HELENA NICHOLS
At the beginning of next semester, Mason Hall will stop being a freshman-only dorm and will be open to upperclassmen. In its place, Westmoreland Hall will be designated as a freshman-only dorm.
Assistant Dean for Residential Life and Housing David Fleming confirmed the change through email.
“This particular change occurred because it was important for us to offer accessible housing on that side of campus for upper-class students,” he said. “For the last several years, the only accessible buildings for upper-class students were Arrington and Eagle Landing. By switching Mason Hall to upper-class, there are now more options for our students who have different mobility needs. Westmoreland was an ideal building to switch to for first-year students based on its size and location on campus.”
Associate Director of the Office of Disability Resources Alex Ecklund said that anyone who needs housing accommodation should reach out to the Office of Disability Resources.
“If there is a legitimate barrier to equal access which has been identified through our interactive process of determining accommodations – then we would ensure that any student receives the necessary accommodation,” he said.
Fleming also said that the changing of who lives in what residence hall helps to “ensure we have the right number of beds for the expected population.”
The change of who lives in these specific halls will have “no impact to the housing selection process,” said Fleming. “You will see Mason Hall rooms as an option instead.” Housing registration for same building sign-up began on March 22, and the 4-3-2-1 process for housing selection began on March 29.
“If students living in Mason indicated a desire to participate in Same Building Sign-Up, they would be doing so this week,” said Fleming. “Otherwise, they will select during the 4-3-2-1 process coming up. Westmoreland Hall students will have the option to select a space in any of our available upper-class residence halls.” Westmoreland residents do not have the option to live there again.
Junior communication and digital studies major Ryan Vanderhoof does not think the change is necessary.
“As a student who has lived in both Westmoreland and Mason Hall, I think the change is silly,” said Vanderhoof. “Westmoreland is an old and outdated dorm in desperate need of a remodel. It’s not very appealing to live in besides the location on campus. As a freshman, one of the most important things to me was having a nice place to live, and Mason was an exceedingly nice place to stay.”
Jesse Frye, a junior American studies major and current resident of Westmoreland Hall, is also not in favor of the change because Mason and Randolph Hall are connected by the Link.
“I think it’s irresponsible and shows the lack of communication between the administration and us students,” said Frye. “I am concerned about the intermingling between upperclassmen and incoming freshmen.”
Vanderhoof is also concerned by having connected freshman and upperclass dorms.
“Not having a nice place to stay during their first year will deter a lot of students from returning, not to mention that Randolph is remaining a freshman dorm and the two halls are connected to one another,” said Vanderhoof. “Having freshman living connected to an upperclassman dorm could also feel intimidating and some students might not feel comfortable with doing that as they are making a drastic change to their everyday life by attending college.”
Frye has fond memories of living in Westmoreland.
“Westmoreland feels like home,” said Frye. “It goes unnoticed but Westmoreland is a very old building here on campus, and its front entrance—now blocked by construction—proudly displays its New Deal heritage. Westmoreland has a great amount of history to it and just a relaxed atmosphere.”
The front lawn of Westmoreland Hall is also being affected by steam tunnel construction.
“Some of the pipes we are replacing have been changed over the years from failures but most of the pipes are original and in bad condition,” said Jay Sullivan, Mary Washington’s Capital Outlay Project Manager.
Sophomore Dayton Keffer is double majoring in psychology and communication and digital studies and currently lives in Westmoreland. Keffer said that she wasn’t extremely bothered by the construction moving outside of her dorm, but she wished there was more of a notice.
“We didn’t know it was going to be moved to Westmoreland, we just knew that construction would be done in Ball Circle by spring break,” said Keffer. “Once they finished, they told us it was going to be moved to Westmoreland which was a shock and within a couple days they put up the fences.”
The additional phases of construction across Mary Washington have moved along as well. The school has already completed extensive steam work at Woodard Hall and through Ball Circle. Currently, new sanitary sewer lines are being placed from Melchers Hall to Simpson Library. This project is supposed to finish by March 2022.