This summer, as students were moving back to campus in East quad, Plant Operations was busy rolling out sheets of sod in a field where the Courts once stood.
The end of The Courts’ temporary residence on campus was announced last November, but it wasn’t until several weeks ago that the building was actually removed.
Brett Fulton, Assistant Director of Plant Operations, spearheaded the project of The Courts’ removal. He explained that during the process of renovating the space The Courts occupied, they were able to send the 375 tons of blacktop to a recycling plant.
According to Courtney Stephens, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Housing & Residence Life, the 2016-2017 school year brought a larger class of incoming first-year students in addition to a higher number of transfer students and retaining a large number of the sophomore, junior and senior classes.
“As we currently don’t have an overflow of students, this is not a concern at the time,” said Stephens about whether or not the school is pursuing additional housing options for the future. “The College continues to have conversations to assess what needs are paramount to the success and comfort of our residential population.”
“Construction site on the outside, sterilized hospital on the inside.”
Bolton and Fulton also agree that the college is not looking at creating any additional housing as of right now; their primary focus in the near future is to renovate already existing residence halls on campus.
Recently, Prosser Hall has seen some slight changes such as new paint colors on the walls and new carpeting, as well as the addition of “sensory rooms” that house comfortable furniture and give students in the residence hall another space to “help you unplug, recharge and block out noise and distractions” according to Dean Gulati’s letter addressing students before the semester started.
Bolton said that when the Plant Operations was working on selecting new paint and carpeting for Prosser, they had students who lived there help them decide, saying, “They’re the ones living there, not us.”
For future projects revolving around residential housing, Bolton wants to get feedback from students in order to help make the space the most comfortable for them.
Though many students didn’t like the exterior look of the Courts, Daliah Bernstein ‘21 enjoyed the fact that it only housed a small number of students and it had a better heating and cooling system than other dorms on campus.
“Honestly, I loved living in The Courts,” said Bernstein. “The rooms were huge, it was only one floor with not a lot of people living there and it had a cooling/heating system. A lot of people make fun of The Courts because it looked like a trailer, but they [didn’t] even bother to come inside and see how nice it actually is. It’s been my favorite dorm to live in at Muhlenberg and I’m very sad to see it go. I have no idea what will be in its place, but I know it will forever be in my heart!”
“The College continues to have conversations to assess what needs are paramount to the success and comfort of our residential population.”
Some students, though, didn’t have quite so positive an experience. One former resident, Ji Ku ‘20, summed up the Courts as such: “Construction site on the outside, sterilized hospital on the inside.”
In response to opinions that The Courts were an eyesore on campus, Bolton said it was the “perfect location” for the temporary housing Muhlenberg needed at the time. That space will now be repurposed as a fully open green space for students to use. Bolton and Fulton hope that this space will be used throughout the week and during weekend events.
Photo: The new green space where The Courts once stood, Credit: Karly McCloskey