It has recently been announced that there are plans to make a new residence hall. Lawrence University has struggled with over-accepting students in the last couple of years, and it has been decided that another resident hall will lessen the stress this has on the rest of the student body. The current plan is to construct an upperclassmen dorm where the Ormsby lake is put every year.
This has a lot of implications for students at Lawrence. The biggest one is that Lawrence can accept more students two years from now. There will be more desirable housing for upperclassmen, which will leave more room for underclassmen in the introductory residence halls. It will also hopefully boost retention rates, as having a residence hall to look forward to is important for underclassmen. Because of the location, it will be slightly closer to the Conservatory than Ormsby, making it a happy medium between Ormsby and Plantz Halls. It will have similar benefits as Ormsby, as it is Main Hall-, Stietz-, Youngchild Hall-, and College Avenue-adjacent. Students can easily walk off campus because it is so close to downtown Appleton, meaning easier access to the farmer’s market.
Despite so many positives to this rumored addition, students have raised several concerns about the project. For one, there would be less Main Hall Green space, which means less space for lounging. This would also mean campus would appear more crowded. Another concern is that it would get rid of the Ormsby lake in the winter. There is so little for students to do in the winter, and having an area for outdoor recreation on campus is vital to the well-being of the students. The Ormsby lake has been recreated year after year for decades. Getting rid of such a treasured tradition would be devastating for alumni and current students alike. Aside from the lake, there is also concern about further dividing the classes at Lawrence. While there are benefits to having upperclassmen dorms, it will lessen the amount of multi-class housing. Lawrence prides itself on having multi-class housing so students from different years can mingle. There is some concern that this will impact the sense of community at Lawrence. There are also concerns about how construction will impact students. The hope is to begin construction over the summer and have it finished by the end of Fall Term 2020. In the meantime, it means there will be a closure of the Ormsby turnaround. There will also be times when the front of Ormsby will not be accessible to students. This will make move-in and -out very difficult for students in Hiett and Ormsby Halls. There would also be a hike in tuition costs due to the costly building process.
Due to the great number of concerns, students are speaking up. Emails have been flooding the administration’s inboxes, and there have been a few signs staked into the site in question. Their hope is that the administration will listen to them and decide to stop the project before it starts. If this is an issue that matters to you, use your voice to join the collective outcry.