Seven sections for student living groups on Central Campus will be relocated this summer to temporary housing while their sections are torn down or used to house other groups whose sections are being razed.
The relocations—which will affect residents living in the sororities Chi Omega and Zeta Tau Alpha, fraternities Kappa Alpha and Sigma Nu and SLGs The Cube, Multicultural Greek Council and Ubuntu—are part of a series of construction projects intended to transform residential life at Duke. The work will eventually result in a new location for Central Campus with apartments on Campus Drive near Anderson Street as well as a new West Campus dormitory near Keohane and Edens Quadrangles for 300 students.
“The buildings that are being retired have outlived their useful life and would require millions of dollars of investment to keep them going for a number of years,” wrote Rick Johnson, associate vice president of student affairs for Housing, Dining and Residence life, in an email. “It made more sense to invest those dollars in new residence halls instead of investing in very old buildings.”
The entirety of the current Central Campus will no longer be in use by Summer 2020 or 2021, Johnson wrote. However, Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, noted that finishing the process of moving students off the current campus could take longer, with renovations of other dorms to house students who used to live on Central possibly ending as late as 2023.
The groups that were relocated will remain in their temporary housing location until the new Central Campus apartments or the West Campus dorm are completed, Johnson wrote. It has not yet been decided what will be done with the space that is currently Central Campus when it no longer houses students.
Chi Omega will move to 2015 Yearby Avenue, The Cube will be relocated to 205 Oregon Street, Multicultural Greek Council will move to 1708 Pace Street and Ubuntu will transition to 301 and 302 Oregon.
Students who live in the sections impacted by this summer’s project were notified of the changes Thursday evening. Many said they were surprised by the decision and expressed disappointment that they were informed after already selecting their housing for next year.
Some of the groups that were moved, including Zeta Tau Alpha, will have to reassign their residents into triples, which will break up some already-selected roommate pairs.
“I don’t understand how we could be told about this now after we already had all of our housing assignments,” said freshman Miriam Levitin, who will be living in Zeta Tau Alpha’s new section on 1905 Erwin Road next year. “I don’t think it would have been a big deal if we had been told before. It’s easier to start from picking three roommates.”
Kappa Alpha and Sigma Nu will be moved to apartments on Swift Avenue that are owned by the University but are relatively isolated from the rest of Central Campus.
Junior Matt Alston, president of Sigma Nu, said that he hopes to make the best of their new section.
“There are undeniably disadvantages to our new location—it’s less convenient, it’s further away from everything,” Alston said. “At the same time, I think this could potentially be a good thing. The rooms are really nice on the inside, and we have a pool. I’m trying to keep an open mind as we go forward because we don’t really have much of a choice in this matter. “
Moneta sympathized with negative student reactions to the news.
“I recognize that the timing was not ideal,” Moneta wrote in an email. “But, as we explored upcoming investments that would have to be made in some of the [Central Campus] units, it became clear that we were better off launching the replacement project sooner than we’d planned rather than wasting money unnecessarily. Clearly, it was not our intention to inconvenience students with such short notice.”
Despite the high number of projects, Johnson and Moneta maintained that the impact of these projects on student life should be minimal.
Johnson noted that because the projects are so spread out, there will not be the same “concentrated impact” that resulted from renovations on the West Union.
Moneta said that the students who will be most impacted have not yet arrived on campus. He added that he believes the spaces that students have been moved to are comparable to their previous sections and the construction may not inconvenience any students.
“I can’t imagine anyone not being thrilled that their campus is getting such an incredible investment,” Moneta added.
In an email to the current residents of the sections that will be razed this summer, Dean for Residential Life Joe Gonzalez wrote that trace amounts of asbestos are in the walls and ceilings of the apartments, which students have been previously informed about. He added that proper precautions will be taken by work crews during the summer and urged students to keep their furniture in good condition for reuse.
Black mold found in a Central Campus apartment in September also raised concerns about the living conditions on Central.
The previously announced renovations to Giles and Wannamaker dormitories remain scheduled for this summer. Housing, Dining and Residential Life will also break ground on the new residence hall on East Campus that will ultimately replace Jarvis, East and Epworth Residence Halls.
Moneta noted that the new East Campus dorm will be used to house residents of Crowell and Craven during the extensive renovations to those two quadrangles.
The Crowell renovation will begin in May 2017, and residents displaced during the 2017-18 academic year will occupy housing vacancies due to students studying abroad, Johnson explained. Students who return from abroad in Spring 2018 will have the opportunity to move into the new East Campus residence hall—which is scheduled to be completed in January 2018.
Renovations to Craven will displace residents beginning in Fall 2018, and those students will be allowed to move to the new East Campus residence hall or other places on campus.
According to a Duke Today press release, the overall renovations are projected to cost $250 million, but Moneta said this figure is rough estimate.