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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Usen next in line for housing renovation

Grad renovations to wait

Published: March 7, 2008
Section: Front Page

Despite plans in October to renovate the Charles River apartments as well as install sprinkler systems, Grad will not undergo repairs and renovations this summer, said Vice-President of Campus Operations Mark Collins. Instead, Usen hall in Massell Quad will be renovated as part of the program to renovate the first-year quads.

Renovating Grad was “among a wish list of items,” Collins commented. He added, “Charles River was a concept to [renovate] as was Usen as was Shapiro A and B.” Furthermore, “Usen’s been on board for the last six years.”

Because of the scope of the work needed in Grad, without extensive planning renovations cannot be completed over a summer, Collins explained. A project like Grad, he added, requires that planning begin in the fall for a summer renovation. “We only have nine and a half weeks to get things done” while students are away for the summer, Collins remarked.

Additionally, Grad renovations “need to be planned properly because of the potential effect on housing availability.”

“Charles River is a much bigger project,” said Collins, “you’re doing virtually a gut renovation.”

Usen, on the hand, is a smaller construction project. Renovations will include carpeting, paint, bathrooms, lighting, heating, and new furniture, Collins said.

Collins also cited financial concerns. “Grad could cost three to four times as much as one of the freshman buildings.” He added, “most of the freshman halls have been in the million dollar range.”

When citing financial limitations, Collins explained that the university views construction and renovation projects differently. Construction projects include projects like the new Ridgewood and science complex. Renovation projects include the repairs to Deroy this year and Renfield last year. The different projects tend to draw money from different pools.

In addition to issues of time and money, “Residence Life has a huge influence” on the residence buildings chosen for repairs, said Collins. “Folks aren’t unaware of the needs.”

Neither Director of Residence Life Rich DeCapua nor Massell Quad Director Andrew Roberts could be reached for comment. Both were out of the office attending a conference this week.

Grad Community Advisor Andrew Eilbert ’08 expressed disappointment with the choice not to go through with renovations. He explained via e-mail, “[m]any kitchens are not in working order…[n]umerous bathrooms have problems with drainage or leakage …and the walls and ceiling are discolored or stained…[s]ome apartments…do not even have a single working light.”

While Eilbert explained that some CAs were concerned about fire safety due to Grad’s lack of a sprinkler system, he wrote, “The buildings are equipped with smoke detectors and each apartment has at least one fire extinguisher.”

Collins agreed with the position that Grad needs renovation. “Everyone in this place would love to see renovations” to Grad and other residence halls,” said Collins, “[but] there are all kinds of competing priorities.”