Baumhart Hall at the Water Tower Campus (WTC) is slated for some big changes, possibly as soon as next semester.
Ann Marie Morgan, Associate Dean of WTC Life, said the renovation plans have been broken down into three phases, each correlated with a different floor of the building.
The first phase will include the addition of a wellness center, Residence Life and Conference Services offices on Baumhart’s fourth floor, followed by the building of a more “widely accessible” fitness center on the third floor, and finally a larger lounge and dining area on the two lower floors.
The Terry Student Center, currently housed on the second and third floors of Baumhart, will be extended to the fourth floor to create a space accessible to all Loyola students and staff. The floor was previously open only to Baumhart residents.
“The current lounge is very utilitarian, and we don’t have a lot of people hanging out there,” Morgan said. “We want to make this more of a welcoming place for all.”
Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin during the spring semester, with the majority to be completed over summer breaks. There is no set completion date for the project.
“The phased plan is not yet in motion,” said Robert Kelly, Vice President of Student Development. “And the hope is to not disrupt campus life.”
The decision to remodel Baumhart came after analyzing needs assessments of students and visitors of the WTC for three years, according to Kelly.
“We kept seeing that the number one priority was wellness services [at the WTC],” Kelly said. “If someone is in need of these services, they’re not going to just hop on the shuttle bus to Lake Shore [Campus].”
Baumhart resident Katina Omand, 23, said she is more likely to take advantage of wellness services if there is a center at the WTC.
“I don’t use the Wellness Center at Lake Shore [Campus], and that’s solely because of the location,” said Omand, whose major is accelerated bachelor’s of science in nursing (ASBN).
Other residents agree that the remodeling will make the WTC feel more like an extension of the main Loyola campus.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said junior marketing major Lisette Arila, 20. “For those of us in Baumhart, I think the changes will give us a greater sense of community.”
However, some Baumhart residents disagree with these proposed changes, and said they were never asked for their opinion.
“I haven’t heard that they talked to anyone,” said junior Erin Clark, 20, who is in her second year as a Baumhart resident. Clark, a psychology and religious studies major, works as a Loyola Companion and said despite her involvement on campus, she was never asked about or made aware of the construction plans.
“It’s interesting that the people who are most involved weren’t told about the changes that would be made,” said Clark.
Junior Kenneth Stromdahl, 20, a Baumhart resident assistant, said the plans lack transparency.
“We knew something would happen, but we didn’t know what,” said Stromdahl, a political science major.
He added that while he is in favor of a WTC Wellness Center, he does not believe that the center should take the place of the fourth floor lounge, which opened just one year ago.
“I’m insulted the university would change the fourth floor just a year later,” said Stromdahl. “It’s great that they’re making an effort to revitalize this campus, but [WTC] residents want an exclusively Baumhart lounge.”
“I’m just sick of all the construction,” said junior journalism major Emily Olsen, 20, who has lived in Baumhart for the past two years. “I spent all of this time at Lake Shore while there was construction, and I would understand the need if we hadn’t just finished all of the construction [on the fourth floor lounge].”
Stromdahl and others opposed to the hall renovation have taken their concerns to members of the administration and have tweeted about their beloved lounge, using the hashtag #longlivethelounge.
In response to the student pushback, Kelly assures they are “still in the designing process.”
by Courtney Griffin