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Ohio State students have mixed feelings about $396M North Campus renovations

Kristen Mitchell / Campus editor

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Ohio State students have expressed mixed feelings after hearing that four residence halls on North Campus will fall after being home to thousands of students for almost 50 years.
OSU President E. Gordon Gee told the Board of Trustees they had made “a bold decision” during a Friday meeting where the Board approved a $396 million construction plan aimed to update and improve North Campus housing.
Plans for the North Residential District project are under way, and a model of what the area is expected to look like after completion was on display after Friday’s meeting.
The project is expected to add about 3,200 total new beds to campus, making the number of beds on North Campus total 6,359.
OSU’s Senior Vice President of Administration and Planning Jay Kasey said while many buildings on that side of campus will remain, Blackburn, Haverfield, Nosker and Scott houses will be demolished.
Students who live on North Campus have conflicting feelings about the plan.
“I don’t see anything wrong with Scott House as it is right now, and it’s just more construction. It’s just a lot of getting around places and everything is kind of hard. But right now, I think Scott House should stay and, because, like, I think it is fine how it is,” said Hannah Baker, a first-year in international studies and Scott House resident.
Others said they think the extra room for students will be worth the inconvenience.
“I actually think it’s a good idea,” said Sanchita Dhond, a first-year in neuroscience and Taylor Tower resident. “They had to tell so many freshmen they couldn’t live in dorms, and especially in my dorm, even if you’re supposed to be in a double, they added two more beds and made it a quad and stuff like that, so it’s really crowded.”
Construction is scheduled to begin in July 2013, and is expected to be completed in June 2016. Kasey said about 2,200 new beds will be added to the area, and about 1,800 will be added the following year.
The project is expected to add new dining and recreational facilities to North Campus, and there are also plans to remove Curl Drive and increase the total common area for students.
The additions and renovations to the North Residential District are part of the effort moving forward to have all second-year students living on campus. President E. Gordon Gee has previously told The Lantern he expects to enforce the plan by 2015 or 2016.
According to the August Board agenda book, sophomore students will be required to live on campus by the 2015-2016 school year.
The two-year live-on requirement has been met with controversy over the past few years.
“I don’t think that should be a thing because, I don’t know, because they want us to live on campus they can have more money for the rooms and residence halls, and I think we should be able to choose where we live after a year,” Baker said.
Others said they can see the ways it would be beneficial for students.
“I feel like a lot of people move out of dorms way too early and they don’t realize, like, the financial responsibility that they have, and plus, like, even though you are a second-year, doesn’t necessarily mean you are ready to move out, and be able to pay your own rent and utilities yet,” said Thayer Tompkins, a second-year in zoology.
The initiative has been met with resistance from campus-area landlords, some of whom have said they will have trouble leasing their properties if sophomore’s aren’t looking to rent.
Some property owners have said they would be forced to rent to non-students to fill vacancies, which has some worried about a potential increase in off-campus crime.
Board Chairman Robert Schottenstein told The Lantern in an interview that Friday was probably one of the most important days he had been involved with on the Board because of the way the “bold steps” taken would benefit students.
“Students are at the heart and soul of this place and at the heart and soul of what we do,” said Schottenstein, who took over as Board chairman in April.
“I think about when I went to school, if I called home and said, ‘Ya know, I really like my teacher,’ my parents liked hearing that,” he said. “Imagine the students calling home and saying, ‘God, I love where I live, you should see this place. You should see the housing the university’s created.'”
Liz Young and Danielle Seamon contributed to this article.

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