LaFollette Residence Hall was a key structure in Ball State’s campus skyline just two years ago, casting a large shadow over the two-story Carmichael Hall close by.
Now, the majority of LaFollette and all of Carmichael Hall is gone, and in their place stands the North residential neighborhood, which includes North Residence Hall and North Dining. The new residence hall will open in fall 2021.
When finished, North West Residence Hall will stand in the footprint of the former Carmichael Hall across from the Duck Pond.
The hall will be the Living Learning Community (LLC) for education and humanities majors, with spaces for students to learn, study and create outside of the classroom.
The process of building the North residential neighborhood began June 2019 with the demolition of Carmichael Hall. Construction continued despite the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to be completed by April 23, 2021.
Robert Ramey, campus projects construction manager, said Messer Construction, the contractor for the project, has done “a fantastic job” following the university’s COVID-19 guidelines.
He said construction is a personal business where people are always physically interacting, so it can be challenging to continue that interaction when employees have to social distance and wear masks.
“I don't think it was as big of a challenge as we thought it was going to be, but [Messer Construction] did a very good job with effectively rolling out those precautions and measures early on,” Ramey said.
Once construction is complete, Ramey said, university staff will clean and furnish the inside of North West Residence Hall.
Jeff Shoup, Ball State assistant director of Housing and Residence Life, said the university has begun the process of planning for incoming students.
“We have a departmental action team that will create a ‘to-do’ list of all the programmatic and desk area needs,” Shoup said via email. “That process has already begun, as 10 [resident assistants] have been selected to serve in North West next year. We will soon be hiring for desk staff and, then, looking for volunteers for move-in crews for August.”
Mary Engle, junior English major, is one of the 10 resident assistants (RAs) hired to work in North West residence hall beginning fall 2021.
Engle is currently an RA in Park Hall and said she was willing to move residence halls in her application process to be an RA again for the upcoming school year because she “was excited for new experiences and to try new things.”
Because Engle is also an English major, she believes she was assigned to North West because it is an LLC for education majors.
“There’s no LLC my major really fits under, but I will say, most of my linguistics classes are very education-oriented and have a lot of education students,” she said. “I do feel like talking to education students is something I can relate to because it fits with my major.”
Shoup said the residence hall will be home to a variety of resources for students in the specific LLC, mimicking various other residence halls on campus.
“North West will feature a resource room — or MakerSpace — that has been specifically designed for students majoring in education and humanities fields of study,” Shoup said. “North West will also feature music practice rooms, a large multipurpose room and private study or writing spaces in the central hub of the building, which looks out over the Duck Pond.”
Shoup also said North West will have a variety of equipment to help students develop skills for the classroom, and various workshops and events will utilize the “MakerSpace” and other facilities in the building.
Engle said she thinks the “MakerSpace” will be a good way for residents to get involved with their hall on campus.
“I think having a special space for education majors to do work can be a really great way to do programs because it integrates their major,” Engle said.
She also said she is hoping to plan other interactive events for residents because she believes those events are the most popular.
Chania Freeman, freshman nursing major, is another student who will be an RA in North West in the fall. The 2021-22 school year will be Freeman’s first year as an RA, and she said she’s happy she was assigned to North West.
“I’m very excited to work in the newest building,” Freeman said. “To me, it’s a fresh start and a great way to start my position.”
Freeman said the new residence hall will help her create a new community from scratch and build new connections. She’s already begun planning events for North West, including a “self-care Sunday” event for her floor, which she thinks will be a way for her residents to get involved on campus.
Kate Swope, freshman business administration and pre-law major, is also excited to be an RA in North West in the 2021-22 school year.
Swope said she wanted to be an RA because she has always liked to take care of people and finds comfort in helping others.
“Seeing other people succeed makes me really happy, and the added social involvement [of being an RA] is just a bonus,” Swope said.
She said she is “thrilled” to be living in North West in the fall, especially because there is an opportunity for RAs to set the tone and create a community for the residence hall. Swope also said she is planning events on how to be a good ally and mental health advocate.
“I want everyone to feel safe and valued within the community,” Swope said. “School is almost inherently stressful at times, and I want to see if I have any power in alleviating some of that.”
Swope believes the only disadvantage of living in North West is she is unable to see the inside of the building and get to know it more before she becomes an RA.
“This is honestly also exciting because it’s a surprise, but I have a tendency to get lost,” Swope said. “I’m going to feel bad if I end up sending my residents on a wild goose chase during the first couple of weeks.”