Whether you’re walking to West End Market or driving down Washington Street, the construction for West Ambler Johnston does not go unnoticed.
West AJ, which will be a residential college, is currently being renewed and will be open to students next semester.
A residential college differs greatly from a residential hall. A residential college is multi-generational, meaning there are students of all grade levels living together, with a faculty principal serving as the head.
“The idea of there being different years living together is appealing to me,” said Lauren Holloman, a freshman international studies major. ”It’ll be exciting to make more friends in a diverse community.”
The residential college has already begun admitting upper-division students.
“We’ve received an enormous response,” said Frank Shushok, the associate vice president for Student Affairs. “There have already been 500 students to sign up and the remaining spaces will be for incoming freshmen. It has exceeded our expectations by a long shot, and we had very high expectations.”
Students have the opportunity of living there during their entire academic careers, passing on traditions and mentoring. Also essential to the program are students who come from various academic backgrounds.
West AJ is set to hold 830 students who will be split up into groups of about 200 in four houses. Each house will encompass more than part of a floor, allowing for interaction between students in different houses.
An associate faculty principal, a graduate student and undergraduate students will lead each house. Additionally, the houses will have councils. Students elected to the councils will help develop new traditions within West AJ.
“Eight-hundred-and-thirty people is a lot of people, and one of the fundamental aspirations for the residential college is for students to know and be known — know others and be known by others in the residential community,” Shushok said.
“We also want each of the four houses to have elements of their own identity and tradition.”
But the large number of students in the program has caused debate in the honors residential college in East Ambler Johnston. There has also been concern regarding the lack of security between the two buildings.
East and West AJ will share the common area that connects the two buildings. So far, there haven’t been any plans for card swipes, which can prevent students of West AJ to enter East AJ.
Right now, there are about 400 students sharing the space — a number that will almost triple next semester with the new students from West AJ.
“It’s nice not to have as many people,” said Patrick Good, a freshman industrial & systems engineering major. “When we share, it’ll fill up, but it’ll be fun to see and meet new people”
There is also an added concern of safety. The students in East AJ have developed firm relationships and are comfortable enough to leave their doors open and unlocked. The addition of more students sparks a question: Will people be able to continue to leave their doors open?
“I’m not really concerned because I don’t think people would be circulating, but probabilities go up (of possible stealing),” said Alise Willis, a sophomore architecture major.
Students have expressed their views about the situation on the “Honors Residential College at Ambler Johnston” Facebook page.
“I’ve been really impressed by the kind of things students are debating,” Shushok said. “We’re going to listen carefully and engage them in the discussions.”
In the next five years, a third residential college is expected to develop. But there are no details, as of now, about when it will start up or where it will be located.