Huntington students and staff weigh in on the effects of Hardy Hall’s closing.
By Abby Rusie, Contributor
“My initial reaction was disappointment, it was shocking to hear it so suddenly,” says sophomore Denali Kern, current Roush RA and former “Hardy girl,” when asked about the emotion she felt when she heard of Hardy’s closing for this academic year. “I was pretty sad.”
Since she could not live in Hardy this year as she planned, Kern is one of many HU students whose living plans for the 2020-2021 school year were botched by the temporary closing of her on-campus home.
Hardy is an iconic piece of the HU campus with a rich history of community and spirit. This spirit is what fueled the creation of the change.org petition, “Keep Our Home (Hardy Hall) Open,” following an email from President Emberton to all undergraduate students sent on April 3, 2020.
While the main purpose of this email was to alert students that we would not be returning to campus for the remainder of the spring semester, the closing of Hardy was also thrown in with little detail, with the exception of the need for the Hardy parking lot to sit empty to accommodate HUB construction. The petition received over 430 signatures by students and alumni, with some sharing heartfelt memories of Hardy and a plea to keep its doors open. The petition garnered no response or action from the University.
Kern wishes the University would have approached announcing this huge change to the Huntington student body more carefully.
“It was thrown in so nonchalantly, it deserved to be its own thing, it really disappointed so many people,” she says.
Senior Miller resident and former “Baker boy” Brady Doorn remembers how he felt after the email announcement, as well.
“I was initially pretty disappointed,” he said in an email interview.
This announcement would later mean that he would need to move to another residence hall to make room for the relocation of Hardy residents.
Many students were unclear as to why this drastic change to campus life needed to happen, which added to and worsened the frustration students were feeling.
“From my perspective it makes about as much sense to drain the lake as it does to close Hardy because the HUB needs to be repaired,” Doorn says. “I can’t see how the two are related.”
He recognizes his limited information as a student, but does not understand why the construction company cannot just park in another lot on-campus, and also why a parking lot closure should mean completely taking a residence hall offline for an entire year.
Doorn has fond memories of his time on Baker 3rd and was saddened to have that taken away. To him, Baker 3rd was a welcoming space filled with a close group of residents, along with a fun energy that cannot be replicated.
Kern and Doorn are not alone in their confusion on the subject. Other HU students share this lack of understanding the thought process behind this change.
Ron Coffey, vice president for student life, sheds some light on the reasoning for shutting Hardy’s doors. The decision, finalized in March, was “made due to the HUB renovation project.”
Because of Hardy’s proximity in being directly across from the construction area, it made the most sense to close that building. Coffey recognizes students’ annoyance stemming from this choice.
“Students who lived in Hardy over the years have enjoyed a great tradition of community as residents of that hall. Even though the closing was just for a year, we knew this would be a difficult decision for some of the residents.”
Lauren Frischman, resident director of Baker/Roush and director of student programming, also understands the student perspective in this situation.
After serving as the RD of Hardy for three years and living there for her four years as an HU student, she says, “It was very difficult to hear the news about the closure of Hardy Hall.”
An unintended advantage to this decision has been an allocated space for students to quarantine during the year of COVID-19. Students needing to quarantine are given the option of going home or moving to Hardy until it is safe for them to return to their original dorm. This has helped cut down on student-to-student exposure.
“While the situation was not ideal and the timing was challenging,” Frischman says, “I am grateful that we have been able to use the space as a quarantine location this school year as a part of our COVID campus policies. It is still serving our campus well even if it is in an unconventional way.”
The use of a dorm for quarantine purposes is not an uncommon occurrence for many campuses across the country. In a New York Times article entitled, “College Quarantine Breakdowns Leave Some at Risk,” Natasha Singer writes: “Many public and private colleges have set aside special dormitories … to provide isolation beds for infected students and separate quarantine units for the possibly sick.”
Despite the disappointment, most HU students whose living plans were messed up due to the closure are finding contentment in their new homes.
Doorn and Kern both have only positive things to say about their respective halls.
Doorn is happy where he is and is also enjoying his new dorm, especially the privacy and lack of interruptions in Miller.
“I am very happy living in Roush,” Kern says, “I didn’t expect to be as happy here.”