Vice president presents ‘First Year Village’ plan to SGA

Jack Dobbs

Plans for a new freshman “First Year Village” to be built at the bottom of the Hill were introduced to the Student Government Association at its weekly meeting Tuesday. 

The two new residence halls will be named “WKU First Year Village” and will replace the current dorm halls of Bemis Lawrence and Barnes-Campbell, which are scheduled to be demolished in 2019 and 2020 respectively, Executive Vice President Garrett Edmonds said. It will be built in the area where Pearce-Ford Tower parking lot currently sits.

A large green area will stand atop the Pearce-Ford Lot as a buffer to the new buildings, according to the plan.

“The goal for this is to be the freshman entrance to campus,” Edmonds said. “[Freshmen] have their own area down there at the bottom of the Hill.”

According to the plan, the new halls will be built in a new dorm style known as pods. In this architecture style, groups of rooms are built around a centralized lounge area. Although students will still have communal bathrooms, residence assistants will have their own bathroom.  

Each hall will be around 110,000 square feet, with each building containing 165 double pod-style rooms, 30 double suite-style rooms and 15 single pod-style rooms, intended for RA use. In total, 210 rooms will make up each building, with 405 beds in each hall, the plan states.

First Year Village’s per-bed area will stand at 271.6 square feet. This places the new halls below Hilltopper Hall’s 301.7 square feet per bed but above the current per bed area of Bemis and Barnes, which both currently stand at 191.4 square feet per bed.

The plan is not limited to new construction. Under the new plan, McCormack Hall will be gutted and renovated, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Experience Brian Kuster told the Herald.

Because this plan will eliminate the current PFT Lot, Kuster Parking and Transportation has been involved in the building design and every parking spot removed from the lot during construction will be replaced on campus.

The whole plan of First Year Village is a tangent of President Timothy Caboni’s new Ten-Year Strategic Plan, which hopes to increase student retention rates and enrollment over the next ten years, from 2018 to 2028.

Caboni told the Herald in September he intends for construction on the project to begin this winter and that it will be completed by Fall 2020.

Outside of the plan for First Year Village, SGA voted on and approved Bill 6-18-F. The bill, which was authored by WKU senior Chelsea Faught, calls for the allocation of funding towards a sustainability film festival.

The festival plans to show six different films. Faught said five of these films shown will be Indie productions, and the sixth showing will be James Cameron’s Avatar.

The bill was approved by a 21-4 vote, with one abstention.  

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story said both Bemis Lawrence Hall and Barnes-Campbell would be demolished 2021 and Hugh Poland would be fully gutted and renovated. The plan is for Bemis Lawrence to be demolished summer of 2019, and Barnes Campbell will be demolished the following summer. McCormack Hall will be gutted and renovated, not Hugh Poland. The story also stated WKU is investigating a new parking plan. WKU Vice President for Enrollment and Student Experience Brian Kuster said WKU currently has a plan for parking. The article has been corrected, and the Herald regrets these errors.

Reporter Jack Dobbs can be reached at 270-745-0655 and [email protected].