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Suites to replace Willham North and South

The demolition of Willham North and South, traditional housing dorms since 1966, began with a ceremony on Monday at 10 a.m. in the Colvin Center parking lot.

 

Oklahoma State University President David Schmidly, Residential Life Director Bob Huss and Residence Halls Association President Kyle Jones gave a few brief comments and signaled for the demolition of Willham North to begin.

 

Gathered near the hall were OSU alumni, faculty members and students who occupied Willham during previous semesters. Many stayed after the ceremony to watch the first swing of the wrecking ball.

 

The gathering was a bittersweet time for many OSU students and alumni.

 

"It's sad, but I do realize that it's probably outdated and in need of a lot of repairs. You've got to take down the old and make way for the new. But it is a shame," said 1982 OSU graduate Kevin Shelton.

 

The last students to live in Willham South had to move out of the dorms by Dec. 20. Some students were OK with moving into suites and apartments on campus.

 

"I didn't mind staying there," said Jamie Hadwin, communications science and disorders freshman. "I didn't mind moving out either because I moved into an apartment with my own bedroom and bathroom."

 

JPI, the construction company in charge of demolition, is projected to finish within six weeks.

 

"The bricks and rubble (from the buildings) will be used in a levee project at Lake Carl Blackwell, just west of Stillwater," said Nestor Gonzales, OSU spokesman. "OSU owns that lake."

 

As demolition commences, so does construction of Willham's replacement, which will be six buildings of suite-style housing. The buildings will include one- and two-bedroom suites and are planned to be completed in August 2006, according to information from the OSU News Bureau. Some construction is already under way between Kerr-Drummond and Willham.

 

"The suites will house 850 students, and there will be private bedrooms," Huss said. "Half of the rooms will also have a private bath and the other half will share with one other person. Groups of about 20 to 25 students will share laundry, kitchen and living room."

 

Some students and alumni say traditional dorms are needed for the "freshman experience" of meeting other students in a close environment.

 

"It was so much fun. They'll put suites up here but they won't have what we had," said Lori Wieder, 1992 OSU graduate. "You meet so many more people in the dorms than in an apartment complex. And now they're beating it to death."

 

Hadwin agrees.

 

"I think they should just build nice, updated dorms. Dorms provide a better community for the whole freshman experience (than suites)," Hadwin said.

 

According to the OSU News Bureau, some reasons for building updated designs of suite-living areas are because students need more space and privacy as evidenced by the 31 percent increase of on-campus housing demands.

 

To commemorate the towers, students and alumni can purchase brick pavers with up to three lines of engraved text for $30 and can order them on the Residential Life Web site. Demolition T-shirts are also available from Chris' University Spirit for $15, according to Residential Life's Web site.

 

The bricks will be placed in the new building areas, and proceeds from both the bricks and shirts will be donated to the Leader/Scholar Scholarship Fund, according to the Web site.

 

Students and alumni can keep track of the demolition by visiting the "Demo-Cam" at http://www.reslife.okstate.edu/htm/03housing/willhamCam.htm.