Archdiocese approves dorms for 2013-2014

Archdiocese approves dorms for 2013-2014

The second floor of the dorms will have 15 bedrooms, a resident assistant room, a common room, and a bathroom with shower room. The dorms will also feature a laundry room, storage, and a deck.

Brianna Glase, Online Chief

The Archdiocese has given JC its stamp of approval to move forward with its plans for the international student dorms in St. Joseph Hall, which can house up to 15 male international students starting in the 2013-2014 school year. Now that the dorm handbook, which according to Principal Madelyn Ball contains about 40 pages of protocol, has been established, the next steps are to find dorm supervisors, renovate the facilities of the building, and find students to inhabit the dorms next year.

In December 2012, Ball, President Richard O’Hara, and Director of Facilities Stewart Walker met with “top Diocesan officials” to re-propose their plan of having on-campus dorms for international students, according to O’Hara. After coming up with a more concrete handbook and a better handle on how the dorms would function, JC received the green light from the Archdiocese to continue with the project.

Now that the dorms have been approved, one of the first steps is to find the people that will be responsible for supervising the dorms around the clock. Ball hopes to find a young couple to act as dorm parents for the expected 14 young men.

According to Ball, the dorms are set up so that a couple could live there with no expenses for food or utilities in exchange for having the job of supervising the international students. “They’re totally responsible for the care and well-being of the kids … they’re like these kids’ parents,” she said.

Though St. Joseph Hall’s original purpose was to be a dormitory for the Sisters of St. Joseph, it has been housing the Maryland Conservatory of Music for the past 10 years. Therefore, some renovations are still needed before the facilities can be up to code to lodge students. According to Director of Facilities Stewart Walker, “this is an easy renovation,” and they are more or less “reverting [the dorms] back to their original condition.”

According to Walker, the necessary changes include updating security, modernizing the kitchen, adding a sprinkler system to the second floor in case of a fire, and updating the heating and air conditioning systems.

Because students will live in the dormitory 24/7, one of the Archdiocese’s stipulations was to make security a top priority. According to Walker, more cameras and locks are going to be added to the building to make it more protected.

In addition, the kitchen needs to be returned to the status of a commercial kitchen, its classification when St. Joseph Hall was built in the ‘60s, according to Walker. In general, this part of the renovation will include “stripping [the kitchen] down to be a much more simplified use of space,” according to Walker.

The plan to begin physically renovating the dorms is already in the works. According to Walker, six general contractors have been invited to bid to get the job of renovating St. Joseph Hall. A contractor will be chosen and hired by April 1 and construction should start April 15. The renovations are projected to be finished at the beginning of August so that students can move in and have “a few weeks to get acclimated before classes start,” said Walker.

O’Hara is very optimistic about the timeline of the project. “I have total confidence that it will be done well and done on time,” he said.

In addition to these large scale renovations, Ball wants to give the dorms a homier feel for the international students. “We have to get more furniture for the rooms, paint them, get new curtains,” she said.

Both Ball and O’Hara have high hopes for what the dorms can add to the international students’ experience of studying abroad in America.

O’Hara believes that the dormitory will be “much more than just a space to live in. It can also contribute to what they learn and their experiences … There are a lot of lessons to be learned from each other, getting along, and interacting with one another.”

Ball hopes this will be able to give the students a more complete American experience. “They’ll be able to participate so much more in the life of the school,” she said.

For O’Hara, the whole purpose of the dorms is for “the fullest possible integration into the community [for the students]. This whole place is their home.”

 Brianna Glase is the Online Chief for The Patriot and