Do new dorms threaten “small college with big heart?

Castleton State College’s plans to expand campus, including building a new dorm and pavilion, are causing some mixed feelings among students across campus.As part of “Project 2012,” officials plan to construct a new dorm capable of housing 150-students, an open air pavilion, and new tennis courts. The dorm is expected to be ready for student occupancy by fall 2012. The estimated cost is $10.6 million.

“I honestly didn’t know that they were building anything,” responded junior Marisse Lorenz, a resident in Wheeler Hall, when asked about the plans. “I don’t think it’s a good idea. I came here because it’s a small school.”

Many students have similar worries. Samantha Ralph, also a junior residing in Wheeler, wonders what this means for Castleton’s future. When asked what would be more beneficial to current students rather than focusing on future students, Ralph said, “We need bigger classrooms. I don’t feel comfortable sometimes. There’s no room and it gets really irritating.”

Sophomore Kayla Ashton agrees.

“There’s just too many people here. We can’t call ourselves “the small school with the big heart” when we’re rapidly expanding. We’re not a small school anymore,” she said.

But that doesn’t mean Ashton is opposed to the new dorms. She sees the positive aspects of them too.

“I feel really bad for the people living in triples and quads,” she said.

Her roommate, sophomore Sarah Carpenter, removed her headphones and loudly jumped into the conversation.

“Quads? What about the people living in the (expletive) hotel?” she said.

But not everyone is against the project.

Nick Whitney, a freshman, sees the buildings as being beneficial to everyone on campus, both current and prospective students.

“It’s cool because more people can join the Castleton community,” he said.

Another person excited about the project is President David Wolk. He explained how a long waitlist, overcrowded rooms, housing people in the Ramada hotel, and even turning students away from on-campus housing has caused the college to consider expanding. But that does not necessarily mean that the new buildings will mean growth to the student body in terms of enrollment, he said.

“A few years back we met and decided that we would have an enrollment cap of 2,000 full-time undergraduate students. The overall enrollment’s not going to exceed the master plan,” Wolk explained.

He said he wants to put student concerns at ease and ensure that there will not be more students in terms of a whole, but in fact more students residing on campus. Wolk explained that the college always had the goal of growth for the student body and have a total enrollment of close to 1,900 students.

“We are on the same trajectory as planned all along,” he explained.

Even excited alumni are voicing their opinions on the matter.

“Castleton’s come so far from the time I went there. I love how their focus is to be a green campus with the pavilion hosting photovoltaic panels. They’re making an investment toward the future. It’s great,” said former Castleton student Amanda Barrett, who graduated in 2006.

Wolk is thrilled at the idea of the outdoor pavilion, mostly for the sake of students.

“The outdoor pavilion will be used for various activities, including more concerts like Sammy Adams, who was just here, and will hold graduation, meetings, and orientation. It’s more of what the students want,” he explained.

Although Castleton has proposed new advancements for the upcoming years, there are still some changes students would like to see happen and feel should be addressed before the college focuses on expanding even more. Lorenz, Whitney, and Ashton all agreed that the college needs a new dining hall when asked what they feel would be most beneficial to the campus at this time.

“There’s just not enough room for everybody to eat some days,” Lorenz stated, rolling her eyes.

Wolk said he also has a plan for these concerns, which will be addressed in the project — an 18 percent increase in space in Huden.

“There’s a whole architectural design in the project. We want a greater capacity and more stations,” he explained.

Although there are some students questioning the new project, they are still remaining practical about the school’s goals.

“For them, it means more income through tuition. I don’t really mind it. I’m going to pay out the ass wherever I go, so I may as well go someplace nice,” Ralph said.

One thing the school can assure is that this project is meant for current students and perspective students to get the most out of their college career. Wolk understands the concerns among campus, but is excited at the idea of bringing more to the campus, without turning student’s away from what initially draws them to Castleton in the first place.

“Castleton will always be the small campus with the big heart,” he said.

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