South Hall given southwestern flair

Sarah Goodman

The summer renewed Oberlin students and Oberlin buildings alike this year, as Residential Life and Services began a renovation process for the physical campus.

After a three-year renovation process which ended this past summer, both Oberlin students and the department of Residential Life and Services pushed South Hall out of the past and into the future with some elements of environmentally friendly "green" architecture.

Assistant Directors of Residential Life and Services Michele Gross and Dennis Rupert are in contact with environmentally conscious companies whose furniture and interior accessories are less expensive and more energy efficient than most residential halls' present installations. Future prospects for dormitory furnishings include carpets, beds and desks made from recycled materials, as well as less wasteful plumbing.

Other renovations to South include new carpeting, new interior paint and furnishings, improvements in tile, a sounder roof and energy efficient compact fluorescent light equipped with motion sensors. South was also equipped with Resnet ports in each dorm, allowing all students to connect to the internet.

"It's a lot more like a real room and a lot less like a jail cell, although I miss the retro carpets in the halls," senior Jessica Sheridan said of living in South.

"We hope to eventually gather residents' input on our efforts for future reference, and we plan to actively gather information from the college community," Gross said.

The renovations to South are separate from Residential Life's design to refurbish buildings across Oberlin's campus. From South to Barrows Hall, retooling has begun as a part of Residential Life and Service's goal to update their facilities for use into the next 10 years.

Many dormitories were given only partial refurbishing. The exteriors of Harvey, Kade-Price, Lord-Saunders, Zeke and Bailey houses were repainted over the summer.

"I don't think the new green goes with the brick," said a resident of French House.

Like South, Fairchild Hall underwent extensive renovations. The public lounge and students' rooms got a new coat of paint, furnishings and carpeting.

Wilder Hall's second floor was re-painted, and new furniture was placed in the first floor Main, outside the chaplain's office and on the porch in an attempt to promote the building as an informal gathering place for students.

According to Gross, classroom space in Wilder was lost because couches were placed in rooms upstairs.

Cole-Newkirk said the wrought-iron furniture on the decks of Wilder was removed because it was damaging the deck's concrete. A student group chose the teak furniture to replace it. However, the high-end Smith and Hawken furniture has raised the eyebrows of a number of students concerned about budget issues.

Part of the campus-wide renovations also incorporate recycling, in Residential Life's efforts to reduce environmental wastes. Many of the renovated dorms' discarded furniture is currently in use around the Oberlin town and College community.

"At least one-half of the old mattresses and furniture from Fairchild and South have been donated to local community programs, including a home for unwed mothers and to rehabilitation programs, " Rupert said.

Old furniture in Barrows Hall has been replaced with South's previous lounge and lobby furnishings in an effort to reduce the waste of valuable material.

"Hopefully, students will feel they have a say in their environment, because as a dean, it's important to me. It's your living space; I don't live there," Dean of Student Life and Services Charlene Cole-Newkirk said.

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Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 1, September 5, 1997

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