Of nearly 3,000 students attending class in Ambler, only 79 live on campus. Administrators recently made the call to close the dorm after this summer.
With only 79 out of 2,878 students living in the dormitories this spring, Ambler Campus administrators had to make a vital decision in a long-standing, hotly debated issue.
Due to declining residential enrollment in Ambler, the East Hall dormitory will officially close its doors at the end of August.
The north wing of the West Hall dormitory was closed five years ago, also due to declining demand for housing on the satellite campus, located about 16 miles northwest of Main Campus.
With East Hall following suit, this completely eliminates the option of residential living on Temple’s Ambler campus.
Student Life Assistant Dean Wanda Lewis-Campbell said the university administration is working on plans for off-campus housing for Ambler students.
The administration is exploring the idea of developing a supported housing option with private housing providers near the suburban campus.
“Our students are anxiously waiting to get the details as many have expressed a desire to continue living near the campus. As soon as details are finalized, everyone will be informed,” Lewis-Campbell said.
To facilitate the process, Executive Director William Parshall said Ambler Campus has convened a task force related to closing East Hall to discuss issues including dining services, shuttle transportation and student activities. This task force will be comprised of administrators, students and departments providing these services.
Although Parshall could not provide information on expenses relating to the operation of the dormitories, he said current East Hall residents will not be overlooked.
He said beds have been reserved for existing East Hall residents at the 1300 Residence Hall on Main Campus, with 25 percent of those residents planning to move so far.
The soon-to-be vacant dormitories will also be put to good use, he added.
“The vacant wing of West Hall will be assessed for its viability for administrative and faculty office space. By using the third wing of West Hall, this will allow programs and staff currently located in substandard space to be moved into more suitable space,” Parshall said. “East Hall will be assessed for its viability as potential classroom space. Finding replacement space for the classrooms currently located in temporary structures like Cottage Hall and Douglas Hall are important.”
Two wings of West Hall house student service functions including advising, academic services, admissions and career services.
Parshall said he does not expect the dorm closing to affect enrollment at Ambler since few students were living on campus.
Several students expressed varying sentiments about the closure.
Junior psychology major Jessica Allessio said the dorm closing is the latest blow in a string of disappointments. Allessio transferred from Bucks County Community College to Temple last semester and said she lives in the dorm because she cannot drive due to a visual disability.
“From what I heard, there were shuttles that could take those living here to and from downtown Ambler. When I got here, I found out that those weekend shuttles had been taken away. Around that same time, I began to hear the rumors about the dorms closing,” she said. “It was not until the first Student Government Association meeting that I attended did I actually hear that they were truly going to close these dorms.”
Allessio said she came to Temple looking for something new but has been disappointed thus far.
“I came looking for something I did not get much of my life, independence,” she said. “I did not find it here due to the shuttles being closed, but I still had a great need to be on campus. Back home in Bucks County, I use ParaTransit, but they have decided that they don’t want to bring me to and from Ambler, so being on campus is my only choice.”
Allessio said Main Campus is not an option for her, and if she is not able to live on campus, she might have to make a decision that will prolong her college career — transfer to another school.
“The sloppy, back-handed way this has been handled is what makes me the maddest. The dorms must stay opened, or I will have to take my money elsewhere,” she said.
First-year international business administration and marketing major Alyssa Mahoney said she was similarly disappointed with the closure.
“First of all, the dorms provided a safety net. I actually felt safer on campus because I knew that regardless of the time I would have friends nearby,” she said. “Second, the dorms provide students other than the typical commuters. Programs may not degenerate because of lack of interest. Most students commute from home, go to class and then leave to go to work. Certain classes will also not be offered next year because of the diminishing population.”
Mahoney noted that the dorms also provide a place to stay for students that live far away, and this helps keep a higher number of students in the area.
Although Mahoney currently commutes to campus, she said she is planning to either transfer schools or live on Main Campus next year.
“Finally, the diner and other sources of food, entertainment, are already dwindling,” she said, “and with the absence of the dorms, are likely to crumble.”
Lena Van can be reached at email@example.com.