Change comes to the Quads, slowly

Administration intends to focus on small upgrades and preventative maintenance

By Connor Renshaw


Original concept sketches for the remodeled Quads.
Photos courtesy of Ripon College Archives

“Demolish the Quads and build new residence halls,” read the college’s Facilities Planning Committee meeting notes from September of 2000.

Meeting notes and preliminary sketches show plans for residence halls that would increase the school’s residential capacity, focus on single occupancy instead of double bedrooms and provide parking off of Thorne Street. A handwritten note on the Planning Committee recommendations from October of that year reads “could start next spring.”

Nineteen years later, the original Quad Dorms, all of which were built during the 1950s except for Bovay, which was built a decade later, still stand. Part of why the Quads were not rebuilt was to allow for the construction of the campus apartments, director of residence life Mark Nicklaus said. “I know that we instead decided to build Campus Apartments back in 2006 and 2007. At that time we needed just to increase space… so that’s why we didn’t redo [the Quads], we added a whole new hall.”

“The Quads were renovated at one point,” Dean of Students Christopher Ogle said, “that was pretty extensive, from windows, to all the flooring, to painting, to new doors. That was done to try to bring them up to better standards, which was clearly as you might expect a lot more financially in reach than knocking a Quad down and trying to build something new.”

According to Nicklaus, no plans currently exist to make major changes to the Quads in the near future, although he did note that the buildings have started to age.

“I do acknowledge that they need to be looked at coming up,” he said, “but nothing in the next year or two.”

Students have expressed concern regarding conditions in the Quad Dorm buildings. “Maintenance is not prioritized.” said Mapes Hall resident Christopher Brimhall, class of ‘22. “That door right there unlocks when you just turn the handle,” he said referring to Mapes Hall’s middle door, “it doesn’t actually lock.”

While Brimhall said that he had told his RA about the broken door three weeks prior, at the time of his interview it had not yet been fixed.

Brimhall also claims to have experienced issues on move in day. In addition to his room having a broken lightswitch he said “on the website, for example, the dimensions are actually incorrect for the single rooms. I have a single room, and the plan was for me to get furniture beforehand, go on the website, use the dimensions they had posted, and then make my room so I could plan ahead… The thing is when we got here the room was drastically different than what the plans had said, and I was like ‘while I’m glad we didn’t buy the furniture because we can barely fit anything in here.”

Bovay Hall resident Emily Rigden, class of ‘22, also expressed concerns.

“Anderson does not have a kitchen, poor lighting in the hallways, [and] the walls are extremely thin,” she said.

She also expressed frustration with how easily noise travels through the buildings and said that the noise can make studying difficult.

According to Nicklaus, “we do respond to the Quad a little bit more for maintenance things because those buildings, some of them are older, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not a whole lot more than the other areas.”

“With the Quad having four buildings that’s four times the issues whereas, you know, Scott is one big building where we can lump a lot of electrical and stuff together. The Quad, I think, feels like it gets more things, but that is because it’s four separate buildings, “ he said.

Administrations current plans regarding the Quad’s involve short-term maintenance and small-scale upgrades.

A model of a potential remodeling of the Quad dorms.
Photo courtesy of Ripon College Archives

“We have, and will continue to do modest upgrades over time,”  Vice President of Finance Andrea Young said, “[such as] replacing furniture, fixing showers, building new lounges. In the Quads in the last year we redid The Terrace last summer, and the summer before that we built The Nest in Bovay. Those sorts of incremental projects would probably be what I’d expect to see over the next few years in The Quads.”

“What I want to start doing is I want to start upgrading the furniture down there,” Nicklaus said. “Not so much the actual buildings, but I want to start upgrading the students’ desks and chairs and beds, and that is going to be one of the next things that is coming up on the horizon.” Nicklaus estimates that these upgrades will occur within the next year or two “ideally.”

Both Young and Ogle estimate that pursuing the construction of completely new residence halls, as was considered in the early 2000s, would be a multi-million dollar project.

“There is no significant major renovations that I am aware of being planned for,” Ogle said.

Student expectations for change are also focused around small scale projects.

“I’m not asking for like, better water systems and better air conditioning …,” Brimhall said, “like a wooden bench in the bathroom where the showers are so I could set my stuff down would be nice, and maybe fix the little hanger that people have snapped off on purpose.”

Rigden said “better lighting in the hallways and the bathrooms would be nice.”

Brimhall also suggested fixing doors, windows, and locks. “The little things are what makes a difference,” he said.