Campus Green Opens
By Katie Beeman, Decree Staff Writer
Wesleyan students have been flocking to the new Southern Bank Green.
Over the summer, the college underwent three renovations that cost around $3.5 million. These include adding the green space, improving the Hartness Center, and renovating Edgecombe Resident Hall.
The three projects were completed on time and on budget, according to President James Gray. “The reason behind all of the new renovations is to enhance the current student experience and compete with other colleges,” he said.
The Southern Bank Green was added in place of the parking lot in back of Braswell. The project cost $250,000 with $100,000 donated by Southern Bank. The new red-brickand-concrete area includes four picnicstyle tables with umbrellas, five round tables with umbrellas, nine chairs, six benches, seven lounge chairs, and two trash cans with recycling. Five plant holders feature red Begonias and white impatiens, and trees have been planted around the space. At night the area is illuminated by antique light posts.
One student, Gene Vincent, loves the new space. “On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 30,” he said. “Everybody uses it. We didn’t have anything like this before.” Senior Jennifer Fowler had a similar feeling. “It’s a chance to have our own fellowship,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for something like this.”
Though the consensus seems positive,there has been some criticism. Senior Irakliy Marutyan likes the green space but wishes that it had been put somewhere else, with more shade. “I’m glad that something is happening,” he said. Sophomore Kyrie Ozmore added that taking away the parking lot behind Braswell has decreased the number of library parking spaces.
President Gray said that there is a plan to add more furniture as it is needed. The Rocky Mount Garden Club has adopted the green space and will be planting flowers.
The Hartness Center received a facelift this summer with renovations that cost $190,000, with $80,000 of the total coming from donations. In the center there are now four refurbished pool tables, a new ping pong table, a ping pong ball dispenser, new light fixtures, fresh paint (a bright blue and orange), new floors (carpet and laminate), and new windows, according to Hartness Center Student Manager Phillip Wester.
There is a separate cyber lounge within the existing building for watching TV, playing video games, and working on group projects. According to Vice President of Finance & Administration Jason Edwards, the cyber lounge has a new heating and air system as well.
Wester approves of the new renovations, but had a few suggestions. “I love all of it, but there should be asecond TV in the cyber lounge and a new foosball table because the one we have is missing a lot of its parts, which makes playing it difficult. But all in all, it’s an awesome improvement from what it was last year.”
Sophomore Tommy Nakamura agreed. “It’s a lot nicer and the grill is a lot nicer,” he said, adding that he likes the separate zone for watching TV.
Edwards explained that there is a plan to continue renovating the Hartness Center. Phase two will include expanding the grill area and adding new cooking equipment. There will eventually be a desktop computer and a few laptops for rental in the Hartness Center, according to Edwards. And there is a plan to create a separate study or television area, said President Gray
The Edgecombe Residence Hall was renovated at a cost of $3 million, with Sodexo’s construction company handling the renovations. “They were given a tight deadline, May 6 to August 6, and they delivered,” said President Gray.
Noting the skewed male-to-female ratio on campus, the president went on to say that the college renovated Edgecombe specifically to appeal to potential female students.
The residence hall received a full renovation. “The building was completely gutted,” said Edwards.
According to Edwards, Edgecombe now has a new heating and air system; new wiring, cable and plumbing; as well as new floors (vinyl in the rooms, tile in the bathrooms, and carpet in the hall), new paint, doors, and furniture. The building is more handicapped accessible and has a new sprinkler system. Edgecombe is now more energy efficient, according to Edwards.
“Overall, Edgecombe is beautiful,” said resident adviser Nikki Liette.
The sophomore added that the residence hall has completely changed in look and quality. And the students have changed along with the new dorm. “I’ve noticed that students are treating the new building with much more respect, and trying to keep it cleaner and in nicer condition,” she said.
Residents did report a few negative aspects. The closets are smaller and some students still do not have cable, according to Liette.
Freshman Neryzza Calo said that the new dorm is similar to the ones at colleges she considered in her home state of Alabama. “The only thing that I don’t like is that the beds were really awkward to rearrange and not very comfortable,” she said.
Edwards stated that the college will next undertake a similar renovation project at Nash residence hall. This will include re-doing the first floor, which was renovated several years ago.
“If we perform an extensive renovation of Nash similar to what was done to Edgecombe,” Edwards said, “then we’ll have to replace all of the plumbing and electrical and data wiring, and install a fire sprinkler system, etc. That will affect the 1st floor cosmetic upgrade that was done previously. It will result in repairs and finishes to the first floor that will need to be touched again.”
The college will continue with its ambitious program until every building is updated, officials said, with most work occurring during the summer. Along with donations, the college is funding its renovation projects with money obtained in a loan from PNC Bank, according to Edwards.