Mary Hobbs renovations announced for next semester

Mary Hobbs renovations announced for next semester

While most students prepare to spend their Thanksgiving break eating and relaxing, Mary Hobbs residents are worrying about where they are going to live next semester.

On Oct. 29, residents of Hobbs were notified of the possibility that they would have to move out of their dorm rooms next semester due to mid-year renovations. This announcement elicited mixed reactions from students, as well as many questions about the proposed renovation.

Why now?

One of the main questions students have about the move is why it is beginning in the middle of the academic year, when the renovations are not set to start until March 17 at the earliest.

A major factor in this decision is the fact that Hobbs does not have a sprinkler system, and is therefore not up to fire safety codes.

“The repairs are a big issue,” said Dean of Students Aaron Fetrow. “There are many issues that need to be addressed such as heating, air conditioning and especially putting in sprinklers.”

At the time of fall registration, the college had not raised enough money to fund the renovation, and therefore did not inform students that it was in the works, though plans to renovate Hobbs have been in place for years.

Mary Hobbs is an historic building that is also LEED certified, making the renovations that much more complicated. LEED certified means that the building is built with sustainability, efficiency and energy conservation in mind.

“With Hobbs being a Historical renovation, it takes time to make sure flooring isn’t injured and certain pieces are saved,” said Associate Dean for Campus Life Jen Agor. “It’s more time consuming to go in and work around pieces than it is to just level them.”

The combination of safety concerns, time consuming historical renovations and a new influx of funds made administrators want to act immediately and start the renovations as soon as possible in order to finish by fall.

Where is the money coming from?

The renovations will cost an estimated $1.9-2.2 million, but the number can change as the process moves forward. Plans for an open staircase and several parlors are some of the renovations being considered that could increase the cost.

The renovation is funded through a combination of individual donations and money from the Capital Campaign.

Some alumni and former residents of Hobbs who donated want to see the building return to the co-op style it had in the past. They hope the space will be a place where women can eat and cook together. The basement kitchen will be renovated in pursuit of this goal, and the space now occupied by the Greenleaf may be turned into a dining room of sorts.

“I thought it was great when I heard that Hobbs was going to be geared towards getting the residents back together,” said junior Molly Day Cooney. “I just think administration needs to be careful about where they place their residents.”

Where will the students go?

Students can relocate anywhere but English Hall, and they will have first choice for Hobbs next year. They will not be put into first-year dorms, unless specifically requested.

Students will have to pay the difference if they decide to move into an apartment on campus. However, final decisions on compensation are still being made.

As of now, students will be compensated with either a $100 check or $125 in Quaker Cash.

During the second of two meetings with residents, students expressed their concerns about the move to Fetrow and Agor.

“I feel like we should have been warned,” said sophomore Catherine McCarthy. “If it’s been something that has been trying to happen, it should have been known. It’s like it’s been pulled over our heads.”

“I feel as if we made a decision for Bryan and Shore,” said sophomore Gloria Hoover. “I’m going to feel awkward and uncomfortable that we have forced them to live uncomfortably just like you have forced us.”
Even though the administration is providing two moving dates Jan. 25 and March 15 with assistance, some residents remain uneasy about the sudden move.

“It’s kind of irritating especially for me because I just moved in here, and now I’m going to have to move back out,” said sophomore Kali Conover. “I don’t know where I’m going to live, and I don’t want it to be a crappy place.”

“I am not concerned about the renovations themselves, as I believe the end product will be a more accessible, energy efficient and beautiful Hobbs,” said senior R.A. Bonnie Hardie.

Sophomore Resident Advisor Brianna Halliwell is happy about the renovations and has a positive outlook on the moving process.

“My initial reaction to news of the renovation and even the prospect of moving out early was excitement,” said Halliwell. “I’ve known that Mary Hobbs needed to be renovated for a long time now, and I am very excited that it will happen while I am still at Guilford.”

Hobbs also houses many students with disabilities, ranging from anxiety and sleeping disorders to other medical conditions, who require single rooms. There are several rooms on campus that are designated ADA spaces, and the administration is working hard to make sure they accommodate everyone’s needs.

“If students are included in the process, if it’s explained well, executed well and campus life is mindful of the students, they should be fine,” said Disabilities Services Coordinator Kim Burke.

Wait, what about the Greenleaf?

The Greenleaf currently resides in the basement of Mary Hobbs. It will be moved before the renovations, but it will remain on campus. As of now, there are no permanent plans for the Greenleaf, but options include the Community Center and the small brick building near Bryan Hall.

Members of the Greenleaf are apprehensive on where they will be located but are keeping an optimistic outlook on the new move.

“I am more excited than I am concerned,” said Greenleaf co-op member and junior Martha Adams-Cooper. “I think it’s going to be a really good opportunity to get out of the basement and be more accessible to people who are off campus.”

“Within the community, it is stressful and scary,” said Greenleaf co-op member and junior Kate Schwab. “We just hope administration thinks about us while they do this and helps us figure out what this means for The Greenleaf as we move forward.”

Final decisions about the coffee co-op are still in the works, as are most of the final plans for the renovation.

“I’m excited about what the women of Hobbs are going to get next year,” said Fetrow. “It will continue to have the community that Hobbs has and maybe even an enhanced feel of community.”