The rumors are true: Southside Villages to close

By Kaitlin Lott

Staff Writer

southside

The 15 Southside Village residence halls will be closed for HVAC renovations and might not ever reopen.
Photo courtesy of uwf.edu.

Rumors have been circulating lately about the UWF Southside Village residence halls being closed down. The iconic 1960s-era residential halls that surround various administrative and academic buildings in the heart of campus will no longer serve as a home for UWF students – at least not in the foreseeable future.

“We have identified maintenance issues related to the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems due to their age in all 15 buildings,” Megan Gonzalez, executive director of University Marketing and Communications at UWF, said. “The repair will involve removing ductwork and replacing the HVAC systems. We are currently assessing the feasibility of this repair in terms of timing and costs.”

All Southside Village residential buildings include a private courtyard to encourage social interaction among the residents, which other halls do not have. Many also have been Special Interest Halls, which were dedicated to housing residents with similar interests, hobbies, passions and academic goals.

“Southside definitely has its perks as far as location and privacy are concerned,” Tilden Whitfield, a UWF graduate pursuing a master’s degree in educational leadership, said. “The Nautilus Market felt like my kitchen because it was so close, but a remodel is definitely in order because the service was always horrendous and the setup was very 1973.”

The closing of Southside Village residence halls will mean some changes on campus. One concern is the reduction of occupancy on campus. Current Southside residents will have to look elsewhere for housing.

“The Department of Housing and Residence Life (HRL) is working hard to manage this decrease, and we feel confident we can meet the majority of requests for Fall 2016,” Gonzalez said. “Overall, the housing system will still function in the same way, continuing to offer a variety of unit types for students who choose to live on campus.”

Even with all the changes, Gonzalez said she doesn’t know the future plans for the buildings. “A general contractor is helping to assess cost, and HRL will then conduct a cost benefit analysis,” Gonzalez said. “The Campus Master Plan calls for Southside buildings to be replaced, but there has never been a specific date associated with taking them offline.”

The summer months would not be long enough to complete this type of extensive work, which is why Southside Village residence halls will be closed for the 2016-2017 academic school year. HRL will be evaluating what upgrades and renovations will need to be addressed to ensure the buildings are safe and meet the needs of student residents.

The Southside Village residence halls have a large population of fraternity and sorority residents, who will now need to relocate.

Gonzalez said HRL conducted several meetings with Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) leadership to understand their needs. “HRL provided options, and they chose to be relocated to Village East for the 2016-2017 academic year,” Gonzalez said. HRL will work on a long-term plan with FSL to consider options for future years.

“As an exchange student I would be excited to come back to campus and see what the new and improved halls look like,” George Meadows, an exercise science graduate student, said. “When I lived there [in Southside], the conditions weren’t great, and the rooms were small, but I enjoyed living in the midst of all the action and near a majority of campus activities.”

Every year HRL schedules renovation and upgrade projects for all campus housing. This summer HRL will be completing several projects, including adding more security cameras, replacing flooring and all exterior doors in Village apartments.

HRL will launch the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Living and Learning Communities for Fall 2016, as well as two other Living and Learning Communities including the Delphi Exploratory LLC and Delphi Leadership LLC.

For more information on Southside Village and Campus Housing contact Megan Gonzalez at 474-2658 or visit UWF Southside Villages.