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BREAKING NEWS: WKU orders Hilltopper Hall to close due to facade ‘shift’

Captain+of+the+WKU+E-Sports+Team+Ethan+Callister+calls+his+parents+outside+of+Hilltopper+Hall+on+Thursday%2C+Jan.+18.+Callister+and+other+hall+residents+are+required+to+find+other+housing+accommodations+after+being+informed+that+they+are+required+to+move+out+by+Feb.+4.
Von Smith
Captain of the WKU E-Sports Team Ethan Callister calls his parents outside of Hilltopper Hall on Thursday, Jan. 18. Callister and other hall residents are required to find other housing accommodations after being informed that they are required to move out by Feb. 4.

WKU is relocating 388 students living in Hilltopper Hall by Feb. 4 due to the facade of the building shifting. 

Members of WKU’s Facilities Management team noticed some of the masonry work on the building had “shifted out of position,” according to an email sent to Hilltopper Hall residents today from Catherine LaRoche, assistant vice president for student engagement and executive director for housing and residence life.

In response, a team of architects and civil engineers were sent by the WKU Student Life Foundation to assess the building.

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The Student Life Foundation board of directors decided to “restrict all occupancy within Hilltopper Hall while this investigative work continues.”

Students will begin to make their selection of where to move tomorrow, Jan. 19 and will have until Monday, Jan. 22 to finalize their decision.

“We understand that any transition in housing poses an inconvenience and additional stress at the beginning of the semester,” LaRoche wrote. “Our guiding principle is the health and safety of each of our residents and remains at the forefront of every decision we make.”

All residents must be vacated before Sunday, Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. 

Hilltopper Hall is one of WKU’s newest residence halls, built in 2018 and offering amenities such as study rooms, a large community space, TV and gaming areas and a “Makerspace” for innovative work. It is located in “the valley” alongside Gilbert, McCormack and Rodes Harlin Halls.

Hilltopper Hall residents have been provided two options to choose from regarding the occupancy restriction.

Option 1 is to remain on campus in a different hall, paying that hall’s rate, plus $1,000 in housing credit for the spring semester. The halls available are McCormack Hall and a limited number of private rooms in Pearce Ford Tower and Douglas Keen.

Option 2 is to move off campus.

“All Hilltopper Hall residents will be granted an exemption from the required housing policy for the Spring 2024 semester and will not be charged a contract termination fee. The Hilltopper Hall housing charge will be refunded on your spring bill,” according to WKU Housing’s website.

The website states students with housing accommodations on file have been reserved a space that “meets their needs.”

Danny Hamill, junior criminology and sociology student and Hilltopper Hall resident, said he was completely unaware that he would be required to find another residency shortly after returning to campus for the spring semester.

“It just kind of sucks that we just got back and they’re making us move out now,” Hamill said.

Many parents have been expressing their opinion of the relocation on the Western Kentucky University Parent Group on Facebook.

“Any other parents scrambling to find placement for Hilltopper residents!” Jill Elias wrote, “This is crazy they should have told us before we moved them back in from the break!”

Comments from other parents under Elias’ post agreed.

WKU HRL stated they will “personally work” to help all residents relocate.

“I ask for your help in supporting residents of Hilltopper Hall as we continue our ongoing work to point these students to the places and spaces across campus, such as the Commons and DSU, that provide connectivity and community outside their residence hall,” Ethan Logan, vice president of student enrollment and student experience, wrote in an email sent to WKU faculty and staff.

Assistant News Editor Ali Costellow can be reached at [email protected]

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