Bushnell Residence Hall, an all-women’s dormitory on South campus, is not being used for the fall 2020 semester. The decision to close Bushnell came just before the start of the academic year, as the Office of Residential Life (ResLife) developed a more accurate estimate for the number of students who would be living on campus in the fall.
Students who had chosen to live in Bushnell during the housing lottery on Aug. 7 were relocated to Bushnell’s sister building, Manning Residence Hall, due to the small number of students each hall had planned to house. The students planning to live in Bushnell were notified that the building was going to be closed only one week before move-in.
“It didn’t make sense, in terms of increasing custodial demands across campus, to have two buildings on campus fully operational for only 10 to 12 students apiece,” Director for Residential Life Jillian Yoder explained.
Because Bushnell and Manning have identical floor plans, ResLife reassigned students to rooms that were most similar to their selections in the lottery. While Bushnell is a women’s hall, Manning is coed. ResLife has reserved the second floor of Manning as single-gender housing in recognition that students who selected Bushnell may have been drawn to its status as a women’s hall.
Vice President of Student Affairs Meredith Harper Bonham ’92 gave similar reasons for the decision. “[Closing Bushnell] was good for a couple of reasons: One, because we wouldn’t have a very small number of students living in a residence hall, which raises concerns about building a community and students being too far spread out. Second, it means one less building for our maintenance staff to maintain,” Bonham said. “They are carrying quite a heavy burden right now … managing the additional cleaning and disinfecting protocol.”
Along with Bushnell, the off-campus housing the College acquired for the 20202021 academic year — which includes the McIlvaine apartments in Gambier and the Comfort Inn in Mount Vernon — is not being used to permanently house students this semester. These off-campus buildings are reserved for quarantine housing, while Bushnell, due to its communal bathrooms, will not be repurposed at this time.
Dana Diallo ’23, an Orientation Leader who moved in early, only had a few days to adjust to her reassignment and expressed some frustration with the late notice.
“At first it was very stressful because I didn’t know where my stuff was going to go [or] if it was going to get here on time,” Diallo said. “But I think I’ve adjusted pretty well.”
Cortney Johnson ’21, the Community Advisor (CA) originally assigned to Bushnell, was moved to Manning with the other residents and continues to serve as their CA. Johnson approved of ResLife’s handling of the relocation, saying, “It was a pretty organized process, considering how busy ResLife was at the time.”
Although Bushnell residents were unsure about the moving process, they appreciated and understood ResLife’s continued efforts throughout the process.