The largest all-male residence hall on the East Coast will house female students in the fall semester.
Pritchard Hall has held its present place in the Prairie Community since 1969, but the hall that hosts one-ninth of Tech's on-campus population will now be modeled after Ambler Johnston to accommodate the increasing number of female students.
"(Ambler Johnston) is a larger building and a popular building," said Kenneth Belcher, associate director for occupancy management. "Pritchard hasn't been as popular for returning students as it is an all-male building."
Belcher said the university has pondered the switch for many years, though it was finalized for the first time in December.
"We didn't have enough women on campus to work out the numbers across the board, so with the increasing number of returning women wanting to stay on campus and more females in the freshman class, it gave us the critical mass," Belcher said.
And while males alone have occupied the residence hall for approximately 40 years, Belcher said that the renovation process is nearly complete.
"The bathrooms are in stacks across the building, and we've completed three of those already," Belcher said. "We are going to plan on completing the last one this summer. We designated the rooms in the building for the fall and will have a coed staff."
Vice President for Student Affairs Ed Spencer had previously spoken against transitioning the hall to a coed housing option. Spencer said demand has resulted in a change of opinion.
"The request for coed halls has gone up substantially," Spencer said. "We're at the point where we need to go into a large male hall such as Pritchard and convert."
Belcher stressed that the residence hall is in excellent condition, despite the myths that surround it.
"The building is in great shape; the staff has done an amazing job," Belcher said. "Not really anything physically has to be done."
But contrary to the coed style of the hall's neighbor, Lee Hall, Pritchard will be almost entirely coed by wing, not floor. The exception to this being the first and seventh floors, which will be all-male and all female, respectively.
"National studies show the best coed housing is by wing, instead of doing a floor of men, a floor of women, and so on," Belcher said.
And Spencer added that the conversion would likely do more than just accommodate the rising number of female students on campus.
"It will change Pritchard into a more positive place," Spencer said. "It has a reputation that it didn't deserve, and it created an image that will be overcome. What the research shows is that when you convert an all-male hall to a coed hall, it results in a more family-like atmosphere."
The hall will also be divided further for students, by concentration and major. Though the specifics of this plan aren't concrete, Belcher said that the assignments staff would refine the details after the spring semester in the summer months.
Erin Foote, assignments manager, did not offer comment to the Collegiate Times. Foote directed all calls to her supervisor, Belcher.
Spencer noted that the switch from single-gender to coed residence halls is not just a reflection of a changing gender balance among students wishing to attend Tech.
"The percentage of women has gone up slightly, but it's more a reflection of the millennial generation of students who are more interested in a mixed-gender environment than they are in a single-gender environment," Spencer said.