Duke Housing and Residence Life has converted a gaming suite in Edens Quad, formerly known as the Bolt, into the Hangar, an “active research lab” connected with the Duke Marine Laboratory’s Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing Laboratory, according to a Monday email sent to Edens residents and obtained by The Chronicle.
Dean for Residence Life Deb LoBiondo emailed residents a letter from David Johnston, professor of the practice of marine conservation ecology and director of the MaRRS. The MaRRS focuses on using drones and remote sensing technology to study marine spaces and species, according to the laboratory’s website.
The space, located in Edens 1C, is used to support the Fouling Community, an LLC created in 2022 with the mission of “[providing] a space for Marine Lab scholars to bridge their experience between the DUML and Durham.” The Hangar is also used to provide a space for the LLC’s house course, per the email. Before the Hangar, the LLC common room also served as a “meeting space for marine science-related student groups.”
The Hangar is currently restricted to those working at the laboratory or a part of the LLC’s house course to ensure the safety of its specialized equipment and “provide the appropriate atmosphere for students, staff and faculty that are using the space,” according to the email.
The Bolt, opened in 2015, previously offered a gaming space for students, with eight monitors, 10 gaming computers, game consoles and a four screen arrangement that totaled over 100 inches. It was meant to “appeal to potential incoming students in a tech-savvy generation ... [and] provide a social outlet for students to get them out of their rooms and into the common areas," said Rick Johnson, associate vice president of Student Affairs at the time.
LoBiondo did not respond to The Chronicle's request for information on whether HRL has plans to move the Bolt to a different location.
Some students who live in Edens and utilized the Bolt expressed frustrations with losing access to the common space.
Sophomore Benjamin Koch, a resident of Edens Quad, said that he and his friends spent time together in the Bolt multiple times a week. He said that many students in Edens liked to use the space to hang out.
“It was our go-to space to form a community and meet new people. And like now that the space is gone, we're scrambling, we're a little devastated as a community,” Koch said.
Despite the email from LoBiondo being sent out Feb. 6, Koch estimated that the Bolt was changed into the Hangar about two weeks ago and said he had seen some construction happen.
“They changed it and then they told us after the fact,” he said.
Similar to Koch, junior Josh Jacobs found out about the change through the email.
“They basically said, ‘All the entrances are locked except one, which we can't get locked yet, so don't go in there.’ There's a note [on the door] that says don't go in,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs, who lived in Edens 1C last year, said he had used the Bolt often last year. He said there were always students who hooked their gaming consoles up to the TVs in the room and played Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros, as well as card games.
“When you live in Edens, which already is the least-desired dorm, you have to take what you can get,” Jacobs said. “You have to take advantage of the fact that you're close to Pitchforks, or that you have the Bolt. And now they just took [the Bolt] away.”
He said that while he individually didn’t meet new people at the space, the Bolt was just a different setting from a common room for him to hang out, play games and relax with friends.
“It seems like there's really no good reason for [the Hangar] to be there. Like, there's plenty of classrooms,” Jacobs said. “They're just picking on Edens.”
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Alison Korn is a Pratt junior and enterprise editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.
Audrey Wang is a Trinity junior and editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 119th volume.