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Westfall renovations spark conversation on 1st-year experience

Collegian+file+photo
Collegian file photo

Last academic year, about 150 students were placed in the Best Western University Inn for temporary housing while Westfall Hall underwent construction. 

“It was like living the life of luxury,” said Julian Gordon, a second-year student who stayed at the Best Western. 

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Living at the Best Western is a nontraditional start to one’s college career at Colorado State University. It poses unique challenges for students who wish to engage in the typical first-year social scene.

“During the course of the stay, most of the students adapted very quickly, as young people do,” said Bill Summey, the general manager of Best Western University Inn. “When students on campus decided to leave during mid-semester — which is pretty typical, in my opinion — they had kids on a list of priority, asking kids if they wanted to move. Well, only five or six did that, and so the full semester they were here, a lot of them settled and felt like home.” 

Summey even put on events for students to experience the same sense of connection and belonging found in the dorms. 

“We have four exterior signs, so we got four tarps for them and let them paint,” Summey said. “As long as they didn’t put Best Western on there or CSU. We kind of had a tarp painting party (where) we had pizza, music and painting.” 

However, some students still struggled with the drawbacks.

“The only thing that I would say was a downside was being far off campus and not being able to make connections with people on campus because once we moved into the dorms themselves, we were separated and had to make friends with the people living in the dorms already,” Gordon said. “And the only problem with those people is they already have a lot of their friend groups.”

Westfall Hall opened to residents this school year. 

Improvements to Westfall include double-pane, energy-efficient windows, heater upgrades, new furnishings and window coverings, fresh paint and new LED light fixtures. These additions improve energy efficiency and overall lighting, which will produce light up to 90% more efficiently than incandescent light, Westfall Residence Director Nichole Valentin said.

“The residents in Westfall are fundamentally the same as the residents who live in Durward: very active, energetic and excited to connect with others in their community,” Valentin said. “I think the residents who are returning to Westfall are really appreciating the aesthetic changes to the hallways and lounges on each floor as well as the new furniture and hardwood floors in the rooms.”

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This year’s first-year class is able to have an average college dorm experience, unlike last year’s. Many students believe this can cause a difference in social interaction.

“Westfall is a place where meeting someone new is inevitable,” said Faraaz Bukhari, a residence assistant at Westfall. “There’s an allure about community-style bathrooms and bonding over brushing your teeth or singing with each other from separate showers.” 

This type of experience Bukhari described was few and far between for students staying at the Best Western.

“I don’t have the same connections as I would if I had lived in the dorms,” Gordon said. “I thought there was something different that a lot of others didn’t get to experience, but at the same time, I missed out on being in the dorm and making connections and friend groups.”

Reach Alexander Wilson at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @csucollegian

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