The Online Beacon

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

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A Peek Into the Closing of Hoosac Hall and Reopening of Berkshire Towers

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Photo from Dietz & Company Architects

As the academic year is beginning to draw to a close here at MCLA, new changes are looming on the horizon regarding students’ housing for the next academic year. With the closing and reopening of different dorm buildings on campus underfoot, many questions are starting to arise in students’ minds, such as where they will be living next semester, and why these changes are happening.

On March 1st, MCLA’s Residence Life and Housing email account sent out a mass-email to all students on campus announcing the sign-up process for housing within the next academic year. 

Located a few paragraphs into that email was a sentence announcing that Hoosac Hall will be “offline during the 2024-25 academic year” in favor of reopening Berkshire Towers. At the time, no further information was announced to the student body. 

Hoosac Hall is a dorm building that has been primarily used to house freshmen here at MCLA. It is one of the three housing options located on campus, with the other two options being Berkshire Towers (which has been closed for the past few semesters in order to undergo a handful of construction projects), and the Flagg Townhouses, which are used almost exclusively for transfer students and returning students. 

After receiving the green light from Bernadette Alden (Director of Marketing and Communications), Dianne Manning (Director of Housing Operations), agreed to participate in an interview on April 3rd to answer a few questions regarding these upcoming changes to the rooming situation at MCLA.

The interview began with a brief discussion about Hoosac Hall. When asked why Hoosac Hall was being closed next year, Manning started her explanation by announcing: “We have a number of projects that we would like to do in Hoosac Hall while it is off-line, starting with the replacement of the upper roof this summer.” 

For context, on March 23rd, a few weeks after the initial email was sent out regarding Hoosac Hall’s closure next year, a heavy rainstorm struck MCLA’s campus. It was then discovered that there were holes in the roof of the freshman dorm building. Three large buckets had to be placed in the lobby to collect the steady streams of rain, and, later, students realized that a section of the seventh floor’s roof was leaking as well. 

Maintenance was swiftly called to fix these issues as best as possible with the time and resources at hand, but it is obvious that a more conclusive solution to this problem will be beneficial to all students and staff that have a stake in Hoosac Hall’s continued use. 

Additionally, it is no wonder that, in the face of mold concerns that have made themselves known on campus this year, MCLA staff would want to get the leaky roof in Hoosac Hall repaired as soon as possible in order to ensure that there will not be the risk of any spread of mold in the dorm building. 

Pivoting back to Manning’s explanation, she also declared that “a proposal to upgrade the floor hallways is also under consideration.” 

Despite this somewhat vague input, it can be seen that MCLA has a seeming dedication to ensuring that its students’ have the best living situations available to them here on campus. As evidence to this belief, MCLA closed Hoosac Hall not too long ago in 2012 in order to renovate the building. Spending upwards of $7 million dollars, construction took place in order to restore the building’s entryway as well as to add 14 dorm rooms to the first floor. 

As mentioned earlier, students will not be left without any dorms while Hoosac Hall undergoes construction. In the place of Hoosac Hall, Berkshire Towers will be reopening after having undergone construction of its own for the past handful of semesters. 

Regarding Berkshire Towers’ reopening, Manning took a pragmatic approach, saying, “Berkshire Towers houses 320 students. Hoosac Hall houses 256. So, there will be more room for resident student growth in Berkshire Towers.”

Manning then went on to list a handful of perks that students can look forward to while living in Berkshire Towers next year. In particular, she mentioned that students will be able to enjoy “a smaller, more intimate open-suite living environment with fewer people on each floor, more modern building design, bathrooms that are only shared by 5-8 students, and new washers and dryers.”

These last two perks show an attention to students’ needs on the part of MCLA’s staff members, as some of the top student complaints recently have been about the limited/broken laundry machines in Hoosac Hall as well as the small number of bathrooms available and subsequent lack of privacy.

While on the topic of students’ privacy, Manning also included: “Students value single rooms, so Berkshire will be offering an increased number of design single rooms and two designated premium singles on each floor.” 

This is a huge benefit that students will be able to look forward to if they choose to live in Berkshire Towers next year, and it is reflected in the words of students themselves. 

“I know I haven’t liked having to share one floor with so many people,” began Monica Thyme ‘27, a freshman here at MCLA, in regard to her current living situation inside of Hoosac Hall. 

 “There’s been a lot of drama,” continued Thyme, “so I think having a smaller group of people to share a space with could really help,” she finished. 

Circling back to the conversation with Manning, she closed out her interview by saying: “As the post-COVID enrollment at MCLA grows, so will our use of all three residence areas.” 

This pronouncement stirs up hope for the possibility that MCLA’s student population will one day grow large enough to necessitate the use of all of MCLA’s dorm options. For now, students can look forward to finally getting to live inside the newly renovated Berkshire Towers once more.

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Ainslie Lafko, Staff Writer

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