Connecticut Commons demolition plan presents questions, uncertainty

In this photo, the new STEM dorm is seen under construction behind the Sherman Family Sports Complex in Storrs, Connecticut on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

With the upcoming plans to demolish Connecticut Commons (CTC) Residence Halls to make room for the new University of Connecticut recreations facility, UConn honors upperclassmen face a degree of uncertainty in their future living arrangements. Although the demolition will not occur until summer 2017, CTC could possibly be closed as early as fall 2016.

CTC currently houses more than 400 honors students and is composed primarily of single-occupant rooms. Due to its central location on campus and relative privacy, CTC has been a particularly popular housing location.

“In my opinion, if closing down CTC early doesn't expedite the construction of the gym, then there is no reason to displace hundreds of honors students,” 5th semester honors biomedical engineering major Daniel Bibisi said. “If CTC gets closed I'll end up probably living off campus with friends for my last year.”

The relocation process for honors housing will involve coordination between the Honors program and residential life in determining suitable alternative locations to keep the learning community intact, according to Honors Program Director Jennifer Lease Butts. Talks to work out the details between honors staff and ResLife will happen during the middle of November. 

“We will have more information for students as soon as possible about Honors housing options for next year,” Butts said. “I anticipate that we will continue to have the strong partnership we’ve always had with Residential Life to provide our students with Honors housing that befits our goal in Honors to support students through these learning communities.”

In order to gauge student feedback on the redistribution of housing, the UConn Honors Council issued a survey to assess the priorities students have regarding residence halls. The survey also sought student input on where they would like to see existing housing set aside for honors students. 

“I sent out the survey now because I want to help influence the first set of talks between honors and Reslife in mid-November,” Honors Council Student Advocacy Committee Chair and 3rd semester Chemical Engineering major Colby Buehler said. 

Despite the relative uncertainty in the future of honors housing, plans have been made to set aside some rooms in the new STEM centered residence hall for honors students.   

“Honors students in STEM fields will be largely clustered in the new Next Gen Hall when it opens in fall 2016, and first-year honors students will still be in Buckley and Shippee,” UConn Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said. 

According to Reitz, the Next Gen Hall will be more than capable to compensate for the rooms that will be lost due to the demolition of CTC. Nonetheless, plans to relocate honors students in other majors are still undetermined. Besides, for honors students, the new residence hall will also house incoming freshman involved in STEM majors.  

“We haven’t made a final decision yet on where other honors floors might be located once Connecticut Commons is demolished,” said Reitz. 

More information and updates on honors housing options will be available in the coming weeks. On November 19 from 7:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., a Town Hall meeting will be held in Laurel Hall 101, which will focus on honors housing related issues.


Fatir Qureshi is a staff writer at The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at fatir.qureshi@uconn.edu.