J-Hall residents meet their new Home

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Eric Ercanbrack

The Broadside

 

Even Simonski-Davis watches as his brother Drew unpacks.

Juniper Residential Hall greeted new residents last Friday with an exciting outlook on the upcoming year.

Nick named J Hall, Juniper Residential Hall opened it’s doors to a full occupancy this year. J Hall staff welcomed new and returning students to their home for the next year with a pirate theme, a new fitness room, and many events planned throughout the year.

“For some of them, [J Hall Residents] it’s their first time being away from home. It’s their first time sharing a room with someone, first time going to college, there’s a lot of first for these students,” said Paul Wheeler, housing manager at J Hall.

Students that deal with these firsts find the situation intimidating explained Wheeler. In response the fear of a new situation Wheeler instigated using social networking to alleviate the uncomfortably that a new student may feel.

“We created a Facebook page specific to students of Juniper Hall students of this year, and in hopes that the students who are living here would be more technologically orientated would grab onto it, and they did,” said Wheeler.

The majority of students moving into J Hall are younger. Breanna Steele, a Residential Assistant, explained that despite, “the average age of students is 30, the actual age of J Hall students is 19.”

Steele is one the Residential Assistants who help with resident conflict, event planning, academic success and maintenance in return for free living quarters, which is equal to an $8,000 scholarship.

“These students live on campus, their a small microcosm of the overall COCC student population, and their going to make their home here,” said Wheeler.

J Hall Upgrade

“Kids are always asking, is the gym [Mazama gym] open, It closes at 10,” said Steele, who also mentioned that for J Hall students, maintaining a fitness schedule can be difficult.

This summer a fitness room was added to J Hall. The funds, which were allocated from the Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College, for the fitness room were given in lieu of student requests, according to ASCOCC’s press release.

“Some of the significant changes from last year to this year was the fitness room that we installed, that mostly funded by ASCOCC. That was directly from student feedback,” explained Wheeler.

Other changes came to the residential hall over the summer. Wheeler explained that J Hall has received a new paint job as well as changing “from all wireless Internet throughout the building to now every room is wired,” said Wheeler.

“Last year we had a problem with [internet] access, because we are a building of bricks,” Wheeler elaborated.

Check In Day

While new students trickled in through the open doors of J Hall, Paul Amar, resident director, explained that check in day provides students a way to get acquainted with their surroundings, and that it can be stressful.

“It’s a lot to take in, it’s a new place. They have to think about their classes and their roommate… there’s a little bit of anxiety,” said Amar.

Hanna and Haleigh Pavola are sisters that are going to be sharing a room throughout the year.

“I’m gonna miss my mom,” said Hanna who is a returning student.

“This is my first year, “ said Haleigh, but also explained that she is excited about the upcoming year.

The resident halls are split up by gender. In the hall above the Pavola sisters, Dru Simonski-Davis was unpacking possessions while his mother, Michelle, helped and his brother, Even, watched from the desk.

“We had our conversations,” said Michelle about seeing her son off to college.

Steele, who is a returning R.A. explained some of her past experiences with students and parents.

“I’ve seen parents cry while new students put clothes into drawers they have never seen before,” said Steele.

Jason MacDonald, a first time R.A.  recounts his initial experience with moving in to J Hall.

“It was frightening. When I moved in it was only the second time I had been to Bend… it felt kinda crazy,” reminisced MacDonald.

Many events will be planned throughout the year to help students feel at home, and encouraged while they reside at J Hall. Wheeler is planning a trick or treat within J Hall, where kids can come and celebrate Halloween in a safe space. Also planned this year is paint the Deschutes, a community service event where residents are encouraged to help paint the house of community member in need.

“We don’t call this a dorm, because a dorm is somewhere you live. We call this a residence hall because we like to make it, you know, a community,” said MacDonald.

You may contact Eric Ercanbrack at eercanbrack@cocc.edu

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