On Feb. 4, students received the surprising news that Calvert Hall will not be used as a residence for the 2015-2016 school year. Students received this news through an All-Student email from Dean of Students Leonard Brown, explaining that the large number of graduates this May would leave a large number of spaces available for continuing students to take on North Campus. “With a larger senior class graduating this May,” read the email, “there will be a larger percentage of rising seniors, juniors, and sophomores who will be eligible to live on North Campus next year, thereby reducing the number of returning students to the traditional residence halls.” This is in addition to 128 vacancies that already exist on campus due to previous under-enrollment issues.
The administration has decided it is best to cut down on the cost of upkeep, utilities and housekeeping by closing one of the residence buildings. Brown also claimed that more room was required by the college for “academic and administrative reasons,” and that this is what Calvert would be used for in the Fall 2015 semester. Calvert is the only dorm at the college on the historic side of campus, and is the farthest from the main cluster of dorms, which made up of Prince George (PG), Dorchester and Caroline. Because of the distance, Calvert has long had a reputation for fostering close friendships amongst students living there, facilitating recreation and activities separate from the activities of North Campus, and providing housing to individuals with health concerns.
On Tuesday, Feb. 10, a meeting was held in Calvert Hall to address student concerns related to the reallocation of Calvert’s space. In a follow-up email, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Joanne Goldwater stated that students had also voiced concerns at Tuesday’s SGA meeting, as well as with President Tuajuanda Jordan, Dean Brown and herself. The follow up addressed several student concerns, and gave detailed answers to student questions.
Several important new details were given in the emails. The closing of Calvert stands to save the college ten thousand dollars in utilities and upkeep. The previously planned renovation of Calvert has been suspended in light of this development, saving the college an additional two hundred and thirty thousand dollars, as well as several other miscellaneous fees. The quiet wings of Calvert will be replaced with two extended quiet wings in Caroline Hall. Medical singles in the other dorms will also be provided to students who require them. The email seemed to confirm that Calvert will not shut down completely, and will still function as an office and academic space. Goldwater also stated that it is the college’s hope the closing will be temporary. “It is my hope that once our enrollment returns to our normal level, we will reopen Calvert as a residence hall,” said Goldwater in the email.
Goldwater later emailed me personally, confirming several of these details. “It is my hope that once the College’s enrollment increases, we will be able to reopen the residential space in Calvert Hall.” she said. “The residential space is not undergoing renovation work this summer as originally planned since we will not be using the space for housing. We will revisit the renovations in the future.”
The Student Government Association (SGA) Senator for Calvert, Cody Dorsey, indicated that he was understanding of why the change must happen. “With this year’s budget proposal by Governor Larry Hogan,” said Dorsey, “I am not surprised by the college having to make some tough decisions. The announcement of closing Calvert was last minute – a month before housing selection begins, but I respect the decision that was made, especially if it is to save money for the institution that is currently seeing low enrollment.” The residence hall will officially close in May of 2015.
Students with concerns about their housing selection and the future of Calvert may contact Residence Life for more information.