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If you’re not a freshman, then you may not be aware of some pretty significant changes that have taken place in regards to freshman housing at Principia. Rackham is no longer a co-ed dorm – not this quarter, anyway. Due to necessary Life Safety renovations being completed in Rackham, male freshmen recently housed in Rackham have been relocated to the west side of Anderson.
Scott Gerber, Director of Capital Projects for both Principia campuses, said that the two main improvements being made to the men’s side of Rackham this quarter are the installation of a new fire suppression system (aka sprinklers) and a new security system based on card reader access, similar to those already installed in Brooks and Howard.
So how long will it be until the booming war cries of freshman men playing “Call of Duty” once again fill the hallways of Rackham’s west side? Residence Director Josh Sprague reported that the men of Rackham were relocated to Anderson for this quarter only. He explained that all necessary improvements would be complete by the end of the summer so that Rackham can once again open its doors to both the women and men of next year’s incoming freshman class.
The freshmen in both Rackham and Anderson seem to be split on how they feel about the temporary changes. Some welcome the new living situation, most notably those who have been conveniently — however temporarily — united with their significant other in Anderson where they were previously separated by housing on opposite ends of the campus. Others feel that the change of residence is a hindrance to their freshman experience.
Freshman RJ Maunton expressed disdain for the relocation of himself and his fellow Rackham housemates. “I wasn’t particularly pleased having the house broken up for our last quarter together,” Maunton said. “I really enjoyed the house unity, and to split us up for our last quarter as freshman like this felt like they were splitting up a family in a way.”
Rackham’s Resident Counselor Geoff Hinchman said that the remaining women in Rackham, “definitely miss the house unity, in a family kind of way.” Hinchman added that former male residents still regularly visit the house and that Rackham’s house board has a freshman campout planned in order to maintain the unity some feel has been lost. To be sure, the freshmen value their close-knit class and are doing all they can to keep it intact.
For those Maybeck aficionados concerned that the unique architecture of Rackham may somehow be in jeopardy as a result of the renovations, breathe easy. Gerber lay such concerns to rest, saying that “the highest degree of finesse and sensitivity will be used when completing these system updates.” Gerber mentioned upcoming renovations of the same nature which are scheduled to begin shortly. Clara, which is currently being renovated, will be complete in time for Alumni Week this June. Renovations in Lowrey will begin near the end of this summer and will be complete by the end of the December 2010. Renovations in Anderson will commence in December of 2011. These renovations, like those of Rackham, will mean relocation for the students housed in these dorms when the time comes.
Once renovated Rackham will be the first dorm on campus to require men to use their meal card to gain entry into their house after hours as the women of Principia are already accustomed to doing. Such protocol is standard at many other universities and eventually all Principia College will follow suit.