Among the questions that freshmen are asked the first few weeks of school, “Which dorm do you live in?” proves to be one of the more popular ones. Answers usually include rattling off the hall’s name and complaining how far it is from the Student Center or how noisy the floormates are. But for New Hall residents, the answer to that question hasn’t been so simple.
MU’s newest hall has yet to be named. Even though the MU Residence Halls Association has had a name ready for months, the residence hall started the school year as New Hall.
“There was a huge time crunch to get the hall ready,” New Hall President Ryan Giesing said. “So, yes we are able to host students and have them live here, but we are not to the standard that the other halls are at.”
According to RHA President Maggie Recca, New Hall is missing resources due to rushed construction plans.
Currently, New Hall is sharing a front desk and printers with Brooks Hall. While there are plenty of halls on campus designed to share a front desk, New Hall wasn’t designed to.
MU News Bureau Director Christian Basi did not comment on the future construction plans of the desk.
Giesing plans on addressing these issues throughout the year by offering open, bi-weekly meetings where residents can address their concerns.
“We’re going to be a very transparent government,” Giesing said. “People are going to be informed of the changes and the concerns. If someone has a problem, I hope that we address that in the best manner possible.”
Many residents hope to play a role in the naming of the building.
“Since it’s our first year living in [New Hall] and we’re the first group of kids living it in, hopefully we can all contribute to the name,” New Hall resident Jefferson Daubitz said.
RHA recommended several names last year. One of the most popular was after Lucile Bluford, a black journalist who was repeatedly denied admission to the MU School of Journalism based solely on her race.
“[Bluford] helped our university make great steps towards being more inclusive, increasing our diversity and just stepping into a new and better generation,” Recca said. “She was an outstanding example of a strong woman of color, so I definitely would prefer that it was her.”
Regardless of persistence from RHA members and students in support of the name, the decision ultimately comes down to the UM System Board of Curators.
“Some of the curators did not like it because she didn’t actually graduate from the University of Missouri,” Recca said. “However, she didn’t graduate because she wasn’t admitted because of her race. We thought that it would be a great tribute to her.”
Former RHA President Matt Bourke said that he’s very disappointed with the lack of decision on the name.
“I think that it shows a lot of the bureaucratic difficulties that UM System faces as a whole,” Bourke said. “I think that it also explains that it’s still kind of hard for this university to accept some of our shortcomings and move on from our history while acknowledging that history.”
New Hall and Brooks Hall are part of the “Dobbs Replacement Project,” a new building plan set to be finished in the next couple of years. These plans include building five new residence halls and the Restaurants at Southwest, which opened at the beginning of the school year. RHA is working with the curators to make the naming process more effective for the future of these other buildings.
“I hope that RHA, and myself on behalf of RHA, will be able to contribute to creating that process to ensure that we don’t have another hall one day named New Hall,” Recca said.
Giesing said that his only concern regarding the new name is to avoid naming the building after a faceless donor.
“I don’t like the whole race of ‘my pocket book is bigger than yours, so therefore I’m going to have my name on something’ because that, in my opinion, is not what this university should be about,” Giesing said.
Recca agreed. She said that RHA would much prefer the building to be named after someone who mattered to the university.
In the meantime, New Hall residents are trying to find meaning in their community rather than the name of the building.
“I feel that we’re the ones that make our own identity,” New Hall resident Donte Hopkins said. “It’s not a place that you live but the people around you and the environment you create that can help you make your identity. The name of the building can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you make a community with the people around you.”
_Edited by Sarah Hallam | email@example.com _