Varnado residents upset over conditions


Photo credit: Justin Burr

Northwestern State University spent a year renovating Varnado Hall to be a designated living learning center for Creative and Performing Arts students. Residents moved in over a month ago, yet they are still waiting for everything they were promised to be delivered.

Potential residents were enticed with 24-hour computer labs, soundproof practice rooms and close access to CAPA classes. While spirits were high during move-in, residents soon started complaining about policies and lack of finished space in the dorm.

Theatre major Alexis Mancuso loves the community feel of Varnado but is disappointed in the lack of communication between residents and housing.

“The rooms themselves looked great, but it was weird to walk through halls with temporary flooring and caution tape,” she said. “It would have been better if housing was more upfront and told us upon signing our leases that some things wouldn’t be ready.”

According to Mancuso, the art studio is not furnished, no computer lab has been opened and the rehearsal rooms are still not ready; school started over a month ago.

“We also didn’t have working showers the first three days I was here and didn’t have hot water for at least two weeks. Multiple people, including me and my roommate, don’t have properly draining sinks,” Mancuso said.

CLV spokespersons and Faculty Rector Leslie Gruesbeck refuted claims that the space was supposed to be finished by move-in.

“CLV and/or CAPA has not failed in any way to keep a promise as the renovation schedule for the facility has always shown that there would be a staged completion of spaces based on the purpose of each space,” they said.

Other than the lack of complete amenities, residents are also upset at the guest policy of the dorms.

Maximilian Hibbs, business administration major, is very frustrated by the regulations in Varnado.

“There are many rules that make me feel like I don’t have freedom or privacy,” he said. “We have to check in guests unless they live in the same wing of Varnado with us, and we have to turn our IDs in to do so.”

Students living in the other on-campus dorms have no such policy. Residents are free to have guests as long as their roommate agrees to it.

According to campus housing, the only requirements for guests are that they are at least 18, they should leave the dorms by 11:00 p.m. and must be with the resident at all times.

“Please visit with your roommate(s) on this subject. Guests, both male and female, may not infringe on the rights of your roommate.”

Students are unsure of why Varnado has a stricter policy that requires guests and residents to turn in their IDs.

CLV explained that the policy was in place for student safety.

“While in the other [dorms] you have to get in through a gate and then get in through a locked door to get into a room and a bathroom, at Varnado, we have up to 34 residents who share a bathroom,” they said. “Having our residents feel comfortable to go to the bathroom and to shower is important.”

“I’m upset about being treated like a child in my own home,” Hibbs said. “I couldn’t say I recommend living in Varnado to anyone.”

Any questions about the timeline of Varnado’s completion can be directed to the Faculty Rector Leslie Gruesbeck or Assistant Director of Housing Jim George.