PFT’s sex changes: Dorm moves from co-ed to all girl

Girls with their families move into Pearce Ford Tower during MASTER Plan move in day on Sunday. This is the first semester the building will house only females.

Jackson French

After more than a decade as a coed dorm, Pearce Ford Tower is being switched back to single gender. This time, though, the building’s population is all female.

Brian Kuster, executive director of Housing and Residence Life, said the change was made to improve PFT’s reputation.

“When they thought of Pearce Ford, they thought of negative things and the building really is, quite honestly, the nicest building we have on campus today,” Kuster said.

“We wanted to get a fresh start and the best way to do that is to change the population in that building,” he said.

Kit Tolbert, director of Housing Operations, said PFT got blamed for a lot of incidents on campus.

“If anything happened on campus, especially on the South end of campus, PFT was kind of the landmark that everyone used,” Tolbert said.

“Even if it didn’t have anything to do with Pearce Ford, Pearce Ford got drug into it,” she added.

Tolbert said the dorm was once all male, but that they wanted to take the building in the opposite direction.

“So we said that we would switch and make it all female and try to begin kind of recreating the image of Pearce Ford Tower,” she said.

To accommodate PFT’s displaced male population, Poland Hall, a female dorm last semester, has been switched to all male.

Pikeville sophomore Kati Stafford, an RA on PFT’s 16th floor, said the switch to a female dorm has not brought a lot of changes to the building since she lived there last school year. 

“It’s a little soon to tell,” she said. “Because people are just now moving in and classes haven’t started yet, but it’s a lot quieter in the hallways, I’ve noticed.”

She also said the atmosphere of the outdoor areas around PFT is largely unchanged. “It’s been pretty normal outside so far like with guys and girls outside,” she said.

Kuster said that though WKU’s female population is growing faster than its male population, the switch was not made to house an increased female presence on campus.

“There is no net gain of female beds,” Tolbert said. “We still have the same number of male beds and same number of female beds that we had last year.”Tolbert also said PFT’s lobby has been remodeled to accompany the switch.

“This summer we totally gutted the first floor,” she said, adding that the lobby now has new floors, walls, and lighting fixtures, as well as a fireplace, which she said lends the lobby a “living room feel.”  

The main entrance now also includes a set of automatic sliding doors, though there is another set of doors behind it that must be unlocked if approached from outside.    

Tolbert also said PFT’s 24-hour visitation policy has been replaced with the visitation policy the other single-gender dorms have.

Kuster said the rooms in PFT have not been modified. 

He also said there is still a learning center and a recreation center complete with tables for pool, ping pong and fooseball on the top floor, though he said the game tables may be replaced after this coming school year.  

“We’re going to see if they use those,” Tolbert said. “If they do, we’ll leave it as is. If they don’t, we’ll look at changing that next summer.” 

Kuster said no building modifications have been made to Poland.

Tolbert said that by changing PFT to a female hall and modifying the building, HRL wants to improve people’s perception of the dorm but does not have a specific goal in mind. 

She said that she is already seeing an improvement in future students’ perceptions of the dorm.  

“I gave a lot of tours down there this summer,” Tolbert said. “After people found out they’d been assigned there, they wanted to come and take a look and they were very pleased with what they saw.”