Be on the lookout for the December issue of The Blue & White, on campus this week. In the meantime, Bwog will honor our heritage/amorous affair with our mother magazine by posting features from the upcoming issue. Such treats include a breakdown of Barnard’s budget woes, a look at Columbia’s proposal for a new engineering campus, and the politics of space in Lerner. Below, Helen Bao gets an update on Columbia’s latest real estate acquisition.
Students can be a little noisier than nuns,” admits Vice President of Campus Services Scott Wright. That’s discomforting to nearby residents of St. Hilda’s House, the convent on 113th and Riverside that Columbia is in the process of converting into a dorm.
Per Columbia tradition, neighbors were invited to a town hall meeting where some expressed concern about the possible increase in noise. Not everybody objects to the new arrangement, however. Keren Blum, Co-Director of the Chabad Resource Center at Columbia, lives close to St. Hilda’s. She explains, “[W]e were so excited that Columbia bought them because we were hoping that students would move in so we can service them more […] If they make noise, I wouldn’t mind.”
Students who were salivating over the prospect of palatial singles in a lavish local did not have to wait long to have their hopes dashed once again by the cruel mistress that is Columbia Housing, however. Columbia Housing expects to demolish most of the interior to make the space uniform with other campus housing. As for the dorm itself, the faux cherrywood- paneled library and main staircase will soon give way to the traditional Columbia brownstone housing layout, leaving only the original marble mantelpieces as remnants of the space’s former use. The walls will be repainted in order to flee from, as Wright puts it, “[that] institutional weird color you associate with elementary schools.”
The three brownstones which made up St. Hilda’s will remain connected under the new plan, but anti- quated inconsistencies like the handicap-inaccessible steps throughout the halls will be fixed, and contrac- tors are reinforcing unsound structures to bring the house into compliance with local student housing codes. The end result, as it stands now, will feel like some kind of hybrid between a frat house and the Intercultural Resource Center, according to Wright.
Dean Shollenberger has added that the space is earmarked for special interest housing. Whatever shape the dorms finally take, the new setup will bring a change to 113th Street. Steps which once saw quiet nuns pass will now seat disaffected smokers. At some point, they’ll probably be vomited on. And so it goes.