Johnson and Botts


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What was once an energy-filled dormitory is now a ghost town. Not a soul lives there. After complaints last year from sororities that the water was too cold and there was no heat in Johnson Hall, Residential Life decided to move the girls for the 2013 and 2014 school year to McGehee Hall, which was an all-girl dormitory last year. “We had some facility issues in Johnson last year, primarily issues of hot water and things that are your basic needs,” said Kristie Gover, chief student affairs officer of Jacksonville University. “The students met with us and explained their concerns.” The sororities were given some options as to where they could move, including Oak Hall, the Village Apartments or Mcgehee Hall. Mcgehee is very similar to Johnson in layout and has a community space, chapter rooms and the ability to have private rooms. “I think what we learned from our conversations with the women is that they really value that community space,” Gover said. “This fits into the university’s mission to create a residential community that focuses on community development.” Although Johnson Hall is closed, Botts Hall, which is a part of the same building as Johnson, houses approximately 100 male students. These residents are a result of an almost unheard of retention raise in higher education of 11.5 points. “We have more students living on campus and a larger incoming class than we had last year,” Gover said. “All of that combined just created more students on campus.” The 100 males in Botts is a product of switching what was the all-male dormitory, Williams Hall, to co-ed. The third floor houses male residents while the second and fourth floors house female residents. This rendered leftover males that are now in halls B and C of Botts. Due to the fact that Johnson and Botts are a part of the same building, students have been assuming that it has the same facility issues as Johnson. However, as Gover notes, location is key of the two building’s functions. “Botts, where the men are housed now, is almost on top of the water heater and the mechanics of the building, so the water gets to Botts much faster. It is just simply the location of the building. That’s why we are not experiencing the same mechanical issues that we were in Johnson last year. It is absolutely livable.” The male residents seem to be happy with living in Botts Hall, according to Luke Morrill, Assistant Dean and Director of Residential Life. “I’ve had some really good conversations from residents and they are enjoying their roommates, hall mates and actually enjoy living in Botts, which is great to hear. That’s what we want.” Although many residents are content with living in Botts, the goal for Residential Life is to move all of the males out and into Williams or Oak once spaces begin to open up. The freeze of moving and changing roommates was lifted on Monday, Sept. 9. Residential Life is now in the process of making these changes. “As spaces open up we will reach out to students based on their contract date, which is when they applied for housing, and offer them the opportunity to move,” Morrill said. Both Gover and Morrill note that moving all of the students out of Botts will be a process that could last through the spring semester. “In an ideal world, everyone would get to live in the nicest building on campus,” Gover said. “We’re not even certain if it would be a renovation in Botts and Johnson or build new housing. Both options are on the table and up for discussion, but the discussions have not moved very far at this point.” As for next year, Residential Life is beginning to prepare for more growth at JU. Some changes may be put into place, such as limited upperclassmen permitted to live in single dorms. “I think that as our enrollment continues to grow and our retention continues to rise, we have to look at our options,” Gover said. “We might have to look at how we assign students to housing.” There might not be a definite solution at the moment but there is a long-term goal in place, according to Gover. “In an ideal world, we will have new residential facilities and very modern amenities and I genuinely believe that will happen. I can’t give you a time-frame but I know that President Cost is highly committed to creating an exceptional student experience. I don’t doubt that at all. I know that it is in the long-term plan.”

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