The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

University housing changes for fall semester and beyond

What to expect in regards to NKU housing, now and in the future

September 19, 2021

The+exterior+of+Callahan+Hall.

Kiley-Shea Steiner

The exterior of Callahan Hall.

Several changes to Northern Kentucky University campus housing have come this fall semester and are expected to continue into next year. Alongside a new residence hall that opened on Aug. 19, existing dormitory buildings are undergoing renovation and new additions have been made to University Housing staff.

The New Residence Hall is located in the Boothe Residential Village opposite Norse Hall. It has five floors and 297 beds in a suite style similar to University Suites, with each room holding two bedrooms, a joint shower and a joint restroom. The capacity for each suite is four students.

According to Elizabeth Birkenhauer, Associate Director for Planning, Design and Construction, the first floor features an all-open commons area with a study room, lounge seating and two kitchenettes. Every floor above the first has a study room and lounge area. There is also a courtyard and electric vehicle charging stations outside of the building.

Floors one to three were open to student access in August at the beginning of the semester while floors four and five will be completed in September, Birkenhauer said.

The New Residence Hall was planned in early 2017 and construction began in April 2020, according to a section on the University Housing website with information on the new building. It is the first new housing construction for the university in 17 years since University Suites was finished in 2003.

Aside from the construction of the New Residence Hall, renovations to Norse Hall have been carried out throughout the summer. According to Dr. Eddie Howard, Vice President for Student Affairs, these renovations include repainting the walls, replacing the doors and doorframes and uplifting the façades.

“We got to half of the apartments and they’re scheduled to finish this summer,” Howard said. “We’ll take the building offline again and bring it to a standard that is consistent across campus.”

In a campus-wide email sent on June 29, Howard announced that Callahan Hall will be offline for the 2021-2022 school year to allow for a $3 million infrastructure improvement project. Expected to reopen for the Fall 2022 semester, the building is to be fitted with new pipelines and security cameras for enhanced safety.

Housing hoped to have Callahan Hall fully renovated over the summer. Due to insufficient materials, they decided to close it for this fall and potentially an entire year.

Obtaining construction materials such as steel has been a challenge during the pandemic. “At one point we were thinking that the inability to get materials would keep us from delivering the project [New Residence Hall] on time,” Howard said.

According to information in the email, students assigned to Callahan Hall have been reassigned to Northern Terrace or other buildings in the Boothe Residential Village. Students residing in Northern Terrace will continue to have dining options at the Callahan Bistro.

Other campus facilities will be undergoing continuous upgrading and maintenance. The main areas will be repaired first, followed by a schedule or regular routine of carpeting, repairing and so on.

“The goal is not to allow facilities to go year after year without at least some maintenance done to the buildings each summer,” Howard said. “We’ve done that in the past, but we’ve taken a haphazard approach to it. We’re now taking a more persistent approach.”

Some of NKU’s most recent projects have been behind the scenes, said Arnie Slaughter, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. These include new additions to University Housing and Residence Life staffs and a changed staff structure.

According to Slaughter, a new director for University Housing has been selected and Residence Life coordinators will be in charge of the dormitory buildings, rather than hall directors like before. They will help students who may have questions or need assistance and increase the overall residential experience.

In early August, NKU began to require indoor masking for all individuals on campus, both unvaccinated and vaccinated.

“Thankfully as of now, this may change under regulation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We’ll still be able to house students without limitations in occupation,” Slaughter said. “The new director of Housing will be included in making informed decisions based on CDC regulation, university mandate and state mandate.”

As the Delta coronavirus variant drives the number of cases in Kentucky to the red zone, NKU has recently developed COVID-19 Decision Indicators, which are color-coded to show levels of community transmission. Tougher pandemic measures like social distancing and limited occupancy might be taken depending on current indicator metrics.

“What I hope is to stay in a situation where we can deliver education in a face-to-face format until we get to the end of the term,” Howard said. “We’re hopeful that our cases are staying low, our isolation and quarantine will remain at zero, that people will mask up and stay socially distant.”

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