Bittersweet dorm renovations cause challenges


Saber Chadili

A student walks into the study area of the newly built orangerie.The study area serves as a community space for students. // Photo By: Saber Chadili/The Guilfordian

You’re walking through a long, dim corridor. Your only source of light is the sickly, flickering fluorescent lights above you. You stumble, having tripped over a discarded trash bag. You look to your left, and notice bottles filled with what you hope is just very yellow beer lining the wall. To your right is a cup of noodles that someone threw on the floor. The aroma in the air carries a hint of chewing tobacco. “Where am I?” You wonder in desperation. But you already know.

You’re in Milner Hall, known colloquially by some as “Milnasty.” Formerly a staple of the Guilford first-year experience, Milner will be closed for the 2018-2019 school year for some much needed renovations, and the general opinion of the student body seems to be, “It’s about time.”

My time spent as a first-year in Milner is largely defined by the disgust and contempt I developed for my hallmates. We would be collectively fined for acts ranging from leaving trash in the hallways to destroying a television in the common room. Having bathroom sinks clogged with ramen was a common occurrence. Our accommodations were shabby, and the over 200 students who lived there treated it as such. Milner consistently had trouble with providing comfort, quietness and even hot water for those who lived there. If Guilford’s student body is paying top dollar to live on campus, which, without applying for a waiver, we’re forced to do, why are we not getting what we pay for?

But the future of Guilford’s living spaces may be looking brighter. Mary Hobbs underwent renovations in 2015 that gave the dormitory nice hardwood floors and ornate communal spaces. The recent acquisition of the east apartments has also provided students with a pleasant choice for on-campus living. Furthermore, Binford Hall has reopened following its closure for renovation during the 2017-2018 school year, boasting redesigned bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways. Next to Binford is the newly built Orangerie, a naturally-lit glass structure that I’m sure nothing bad will ever happen in. No first-years are ever going to try to smoke in it or break the glass, mark my words.

Although these renovations present a step in the right direction as far as improving the quality of life on campus, the renovations on campus are also harming our shared community spaces. With Milner closed, the Greenleaf is currently non-existent. Formerly hosted in Milner’s basement, the student-run coffee co-op was ousted from the building without being given another place in which to operate. The Greenleaf was one of the comfiest spaces on campus, and a vital meeting place for friends and clubs alike. Moreover, the Hut has been gutted of its interior, leaving students without that cozy place to drink tea, study or practice their religion in peace and quiet. While Milner certainly requires the renovations, why couldn’t there have been a contingency plan to ensure the continuation of the Greenleaf? These two spaces embodied Guilford’s heart and spirit, and to remove them seems like a dire mistake.

Guilford’s dormitories need to be updated in accordance with the price students pay to live here. But Guilford’s administration also cannot neglect and remove the student-driven spots that have warmth and personality in favor of modernity.