COLUMBIA — The three newest MU residence halls, Galena, Hawthorn and Dogwood, have proved to be popular living choices not only for new students but returning students as well.
“It’s right in the middle of everything," sophomore Alex Beech said. Beech is a resident of Hawthorn Residence Hall. "You don’t need to drive anywhere, and the rec center is right next door. It just made sense.”
Construction of the residential halls began in summer 2007 and was completed in time for the start of this semester. Ripe with that new-building smell of fresh paint and flooring, the halls have a mixture of single, double and double-suite rooms on each of the four floors.
Frankie Minor, director of Residential Life, said the original concept “was to continue to diversify the types of housing options that are available to students.”
The three halls are named for Missouri's state flower, state tree and state mineral.
They work together almost as one living community. One front desk, in Hawthorn, serves all three dorms, and Hawthorn also has lounges and smaller study rooms on its main floor. But Hawthorn is the only one of the three without computer labs and laundry rooms.
Community bathrooms, which were not part of the last round of residence halls, are back.
“We started hearing from students that an additional challenge is trying to create that sense of community — that's what draws them back,” Minor said. “And so we said let’s go back to something we do know that helps, which is community restrooms, but let’s do it in a nicer furnishing."
Fewer students are sharing the bathrooms. "Say in Gillett, you’ve got maybe 25 people who are sharing a restroom, but in the new facilities that number ranges anywhere from 15 to 18 people,” Minor said.
Although there is no official count yet of the breakdown of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors living in the new halls, many returning students are calling them home. Ryan Cahill, the community adviser of Dogwood's first floor, said his floor has 10 sophomores, seven freshmen and four juniors.
Robert Kiser, one of Cahill’s residents and a sophomore who lived last year in the off-campus housing provided by Residential Life, said he wanted his chance to live on campus and signed up for Dogwood as soon as he could.
“I had to take a shuttle every day. It was not pleasant,” Kiser said. “I wanted to be as in the middle of campus as possible.”
Freshman James Condry said he's glad to live with students older than him.
"I’m from Dallas, Texas, so I didn’t know a soul coming up here," Condry said. "They showed me around and showed me how stuff works, good places to eat and guided me through.”
Galena, Hawthorn and Dogwood have the same initial cost for students as other newly constructed residential halls, including Center, College Avenue, Discovery and Excellence, except the new ones have a $200 surcharge because all three are open during academic breaks. The annual rate for a single room, which does not include a meal plan, is $6,995, and for a double or double-suite room is $5,740.
Minor thinks the three new halls, which are part of the $360 million Residential Life Master Plan, respond directly to students' needs as expressed to Residential Life.
“The only thing we conceived that we weren’t able to achieve were connecting bridges between the three buildings,” Minor said. “The budget was just too high, and it was one of the things we had to eliminate.”
The residence hall next in line in the Residential Life Master Plan is the Hudson/Rollins renovation, which is scheduled to be finished by next fall.