Western eliminates North Quad

Steven Barnum , News editor

Bayliss and Henninger Halls, pillars in Western Illinois University’s North Quad, will no longer be available for next year’s freshmen.

After announcing that Tanner Hall will be taken offline following the Spring 2019 semester, Western decided to eliminate the rest of the freshmen-exclusive dorms. The move will group all students who live on campus  from freshmen to seniors into the same residence halls. On campus options for next year’s freshmen will include Lincoln, Washington and Thompson Halls. Upper division students who live in these buildings will reside on separate floors from their freshmen classmates, which Western hopes will allow first-year students to continue to share the same experience.

Thompson Hall, on N Western Ave, was renovated in 2013 and offers residents a convenience store, lounge and computer lab. The Lincoln/Washington towers on W Adams St. also include
a convenience store and computer lab. Combined,
the three halls could house roughly 3,000 students, which exceeds the current on-campus population. Upper-division students who wish to live elsewhere on campus could choose be- tween Grote, Corbin or Olson Halls. Joe Roselieb, Director
of Residential and Auxiliary Facilities on the Macomb campus, believes that the decision is practical.

“We get told a lot from freshmen students when they come here that they’re disappointed in what they see,” Roselieb says. “They want to be in close proximity to the campus and the dining centers and they see the updated accommodations to the residence halls. This was about what we can do to enhance
the student experience.”

One of the Western’s strengths in Roselieb’s mind is the First Year Experience (FYE). FYE is a program that is designed to help first year students transition into college and feel welcome at Western. The program typically holds events like mud volleyball when new students move to campus each fall. Roselieb likes the idea of continuing to group freshmen together on the same floors.

“We wanted to keep the integrity of the FYE community because we know that’s important to students,” the Western graduate said. “It’s something that we know is a value to students.”

Additionally, Living Learning Communities (LLCs) will become more established in the fall semester. LLCs try to create a living environment where students with the same
majors and academic interests can work together on home-
work. Western is looking to add an agricultural commu-
nity, among others, to further expand opportunities.

When it comes to potential layoffs from the decision, Roselieb says that most of the staff will keep their jobs. Even though that there will be fewer buildings to monitor and maintain, Western will increase the number of resident assistants. Typically, an RA is responsible for two floors, but in places like Lincoln and Washington, they will oversee one floor. Ideally, this would allow the staff to be more efficient.

Roselieb says that the deci- sion won’t save the university money from a staffing standpoint, since Western will also allow building service workers to transition over to the existing resi- dence halls. He does see the potential for “significant” savings when it comes to utility costs since the north quad will require much less conditioning.

While some members of the Macomb community say that the decision to close Bayliss and Henninger Halls is in direct response to the ongoing decline in enrollment, Roselieb insists that that is not the case.

“That (decline in enrollment) is not the determining factor,” Roselieb said. “It makes sense to consolidate those students, which helps save costs at a time of restructure.”

Roselieb mentions that other state schools are making similar decisions based on enrollment and budget issues, but that Western’s decisions don’t necessarily hurt students.

“We want new students to know that we’re not just doing the same things. We’re trying to be creative and try new things in a dire time. No current student should see any negative impact to this,”Roselieb said.

Part of the decision to close the north quad relates back to Roselieb’s time as a Leatherneck. Before graduating with a Master’s degree in 2009, he recalls life as a freshman student, where he lived in close quarters with upper classmen. Older stu- dents quickly became mentors and friends in his experience, and that could be a selling point to new freshmen.

“It was very helpful for me. I was able to look up to them, mature and learn the lay of the land on campus,” Roselieb said. “There’s already a melting pot of different experiences among students, so this decision will only enhance that.”

Looking forward, there are no plans to demolish Tanner,
Bayliss or Henninger Halls, indicating that the universi-
ty is hopeful that enrollment numbers will go back up in the
near future.

“I think the pros are going to  outweigh the cons in the long run,” Roselieb said. “After the newness wears off, I think it will provide positive interactions and experiences.We saw this as an opportunity to do something really cool and to make the campus a place students want to be.”