Honors Council town hall meeting addresses future of honors housing

Jennifer Lease Butts, assistant vice provost for enrichment programs and director of the honors program, speaks at a town hall meeting in Laurel Hall in Storrs, Connecticut on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015. (Mei Buzzell/The Daily Campus)

Students voiced concerns about the seemingly ambiguous future of honors housing to assistant vice provost for enrichment programs and director of the honors program, Jennifer Lease Butts, at the Honors Council-sponsored a Town Hall meeting in Laurel Hall Thursday.

"We will be able to tell students exactly what the new honors housing options are before the housing deposit is due in January," Butts said.

While the meeting addressed any concerns related to the honors program, discussion seemed to revolve heavily around the specific issues related to honors housing.

UConn plans to tear down the centrally located Connecticut Commons - a popular dorm in the honors community – to make room for the new recreation center. This left many honors students wondering about the future of honors housing.

Butts said that the decision to tear down CTC was made because the residential area became prohibitively expensive due to its decaying infrastructure. UConn will replace the dorm with a new recreation center as part of its mission to create a more beautiful, pedestrian friendly and healthy campus.

Butts did not officially confirm whether or not CTC will be open to students next year. However, she said she believes the alternative housing options available will be better in terms of location and resources.

“Unfortunately,” Butts said, “no other housing option will have the same configuration as CTC.”

After the demolition of CTC, most singles will be designated to Resident Assistants and students with disabilities, Butts said. It will be difficult to live in a single unless the Center for Students with Disabilities can give authorization.

“If all goes according to plan, CTC will be closed next year and the rec center will open in January 2019. However, after many years working with a large institution, I know that there are often delays,” Butts said.

Rebecca Schwartz, a third-semester biology major, decided to move off campus because she said the new honors housing options aren’t as appealing.

 “I was really set on moving back into CTC next year. With its single-styled suites, it’s the perfect balance of independence while still living with your best friends. Now that they're tearing it down, there is really nowhere on campus that offers similar benefits,” Schwartz said.

The name of the dorm under construction was changed from the “STEM dorm” to the “NextGen dorm” to clarify that it is not exclusively for STEM majors, Butts said.

Butts said she is excited at the opportunities the new dorm will offer for academic integration because it will house learning communities including Honors, EcoHouse, Women in Math Science and Engineering, Innovation House and the Pre-Pharm Community.

Butts also recommended that students with questions or concerns regarding the honors program send them to the general honors email.

Butts hopes Town Hall meetings will occur more frequently to address concerns within the Honors program more comprehensively and foster a sense of community.

“As students, you have a lot more power than you think you do, I would encourage you to talk to your administrators do address your concerns and work towards an effective solution,” Butts said.


Rebecca Kaufman is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rebecca.kaufman@uconn.edu.