North Campus revitalization key for Quincy success
Written by: Taryn Sargent, Sam Huff, Gage Evans, Noah Gershman, Collin Smith
When someone searches online for Quincy University, what comes up first are pictures of the main campus. The historic brick buildings from every angle and the occasional athletic photo paint how important sports are to the university. But if you keep scrolling on Google, what you won’t find, on the first page, is QU’s North Campus.
North Campus is often the last thought that comes to mind when you think of Quincy University. It is even hinted at in the name difference, Main Campus compared to the name North Campus. However, several of the majors offered at Quincy University call North Campus home.
North Campus, as a whole, is less renovated and utilized than Main Campus buildings. Most of North Campus is not even used, with numerous potential residential rooms and offices empty.
Wasted space has a lot of potential for a vibrant campus
QUMedia was given the opportunity to tour almost every inch of Quincy University’s North Campus. With the help of campus security, we were able to see the ins and outs of this location. During a student’s time at QU, they are almost guaranteed to take a course at North Campus. Yet by the time they graduate they will have almost zero clue as to what this site has to offer.
Most QU students look at North Campus as a location a few blocks from campus that most say they would avoid taking a class there if they could. The beauty of QU being a small school is that nothing is too far away, but it feels like North Campus is disconnected from the Main Campus.
While the distance is only one mile, the walk from Main Campus to North Campus is 20 – 30 minutes depending on your speed. If you do not have a vehicle to take you to and from class, you will have to take the campus shuttle, which has its own problems due to an inconsistent schedule.
What frustrates some QU students about North Campus is that they often get lost. North Campus is full of turns and stairwells that may be confusing. North Campus is also broken up into separate corridors that host classrooms, science labs, a newsroom, a broadcast studio, a baseball facility, several chapels, the Connie Niemann Center for Music, and storage rooms that are filled with junk that do nothing but collect dust.
There are also several floors of housing that are used by various organizations that use the site as a retreat center. The softball field and soccer stadium are both housed at North Campus as well. The average student at QU does not know North Campus confidently like they know Main Campus.
We, reporters at QUMedia, believe that North Campus is full of wasted space. As the QU population grows, Main Campus is starting to feel overpopulated as parking spaces are being filled up, and freshman men are having to live in two buildings. There is plenty of space at North Campus to house students and give this location the recognition it deserves.
Mike Fonck graduated from Quincy College in 1972 and lived at North Campus as an upperclassman studying for the Diocese of Joliet to be a Diocesan priest. Fifty years later, his only regret is not being more active in the Quincy College community.
Fonck refers to North Campus as the OLA, because that is what it was called during his time as a student. The term OLA represents Our Lady of Angels Seminary. There were multiple facilities that were at his disposal that do not exist for the modern-day QU student.
“We seemed to have everything we needed right there: food, recreation, our private rooms, a pool, a gym, a chapel, and most importantly, our friends, even for those of us that were lucky enough to have cars,” Fonck said. “If we did leave for something besides classes, it was for some “apostolic work” on the weekends which we were required to be involved in. It was indeed a different time! When my friends and I went out to eat, it seemed we only went to Pizza Hut on 24th Street. We had classes both at OLA and QC, so we were students of both locations, though our degrees came from QC.”
We Have Lived There Before
QU administration does not believe that the dormitory section of North Campus is a liveable location. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, QU students who contracted the virus were sent to North Campus to be quarantined.
These students included many of the in-season student athletes during the time. As they had to undergo testing frequently to be able to travel.
“So I was in quarantine for what felt like 20 days,” Faith Haggard, a track team member who was quarantined, said. “When we got there the rooms were really creepy. We tried to sleep four to a room, but we couldn’t because we didn’t know exactly who was positive or negative. We did have guys bust in the room. The showers had brown residue coming out of them. But then it turned interesting… because our whole team got put in quarantine. Being at North Campus did help me realize it’s not as creepy as I thought. The rooms were actually spacious and the bathrooms were nice. If it was remodeled I would definitely move into North Campus.”
Faith Haggard stayed in a room at North Campus that was supposed to have triple occupancy. The shower rooms on her floor had multiple stalls that she explained had a lot of potential. Haggard also mentioned that the separation of showers and bathrooms reminded her of the Garner floor plans.
Haggard also said that it would be helpful for her to stay on North Campus as her criminal psychology courses are mainly on that site.
Easier access for many groups in the student body
Many groups at Quincy University must use North Campus’ facilities in order to excel in their daily life. These groups include students majoring in communication, psychology, music, or science specific degrees.
The demand of their upper class work almost entirely puts their coursework in a North Campus classroom. Some are lucky to have transportation to get to class, but others are not as fortunate.
“I’m in like mainly 300 level courses… I’m pretty much completely North Campus and don’t go to Francis for any of my classes. Having a car honestly feels like a necessity to me because I wouldn’t want to wait for the bus to come, and then wait for the bus at North and come back,” Christian Czarny, biology major, said.
There are also four athletic teams where the bulk of their training is completed at North Campus. The baseball, softball, and soccer teams all hold their locker rooms here, as well as baseball and softball sharing their indoor facility there when weather permits.
The abundance of time spent at North Campus through practice, games, and travel add up and can cause strain to the everyday life of students.
“Currently we have weights and then individual practices for each position. First week in January is when we are coming back… we’ll lift for about an hour four days a week and then we’ll still be inside because of how cold it is and depending on the day it can be up to three hours inside,” Aidan Clancy, baseball player, said.
Clancy also mentioned he’s luckier than his freshman counterparts who have relied on the shuttle schedule only to show up late to practice or meetings on more than one occasion.
The same problems seem to arise for students, as the shuttle locations and schedules have continued to be a stressor for students making it to class and events on time. While providing North Campus as a dorm option can alleviate some of the concerns in the shuttle, the schedule continues to confuse student riders.
The confusion continues on the school website which shows a completely different schedule than ones posted on campus.
The misinformation has made students doubt the transportation campus provides and rely on other alternatives.
“One of the first weeks of school I used the shuttle to get to North,” Matt Brunken said. “The shuttle was over 15 mins off from the expected time which made me late, and of course my coach did class checks that day. Ever since that I’ve asked my teammates for rides or just walked to North early. I’d rather leave class super early and know I’ll make it than rely on something out of my control.”
If the university could develop an app to monitor the shuttle through GPS, students could get real time updates to accurately predict if they can make their obligation on time and take away a lot of the guesswork that is being performed.
In a perfect world, we could see a new dorm option in the coming years with little renovation needed to make it liveable, with a reliable transportation system to alleviate the sporadic travel back and forth. There is enough living space to hold over 100 students with extra rooms and a standard cafeteria to provide residential upgrades.
North Campus could be the answer to the growing question of how QU will solve their issue of living space and parking with increased enrollment.
However, if QU were to open back up North Campus for residency, they would probably need more parking.
Currently, in Lot L, there are 50 parking spots with one of them being a handicapped spot. There are also 2 more handicapped spots by the front of the center for music.
In Lot K, there are 93 parking spots. Which is a good amount, but if there will be classes out there too, students will need spots to park if they were to drive out there.
There is another Lot, Lot J, for faculty only. There are eight faculty spots, and four handicapped spots.
If roughly 100 people live at North Campus, and say everyone used a spot, that would leave about 43 spots.
Forty-three spots seems like a lot, but when you take into account the people going to class at North Campus, faculty, and if a retreat is going on, it could become very tight.
Speaking of retreats, would retreats even happen anymore if students lived out here?
Retreats are held six weekends out of the year, usually in January, March, April, June, July, and November. They start Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m., and run till Monday evening at 6:30 p.m.
This could potentially be bringing in revenue for the university. However, if renovations would push forward the school could potentially charge more for the use of the space. As with updated bathrooms and overall residential space the retreats could provide a more livable environment for students.
It is important to note that while students have been unable to stay in what used to be dorms on North Campus, these retreat programs have been utilizing the space for years.
So you’re telling me there’s a chance for students to live at North Campus
Short answer, yes. There is obviously the ability to live in North Campus dorms, even now, because of how quarantining and retreat centers have been using the space.
But if North Campus were to be up and operational for student living and other different programs, knowing where to go and where everything would be located is another issue.
A North Campus map provided to students, staff and faculty is very limited on the information it provides.
Let alone showing the space that is used, it doesn’t show all the potential space that could be used or was even used for at one point in time.
“I’ve had the main percentage of my classes out here at North Campus as I am in the process of completing my final year here at QU,” Preston Willman said. “If you told me to help you find different classrooms by their numbers or even wherever the sports do their extended practice stuff out here, I would be of no help. Unless you tell me what type of class you’re looking for I would be of no help because of the weird hallways and classroom locations in this building.”
Head of the security department Sam Lathrop, was the only person of interest that was able to effectively answer specific questions about the maps of North Campus.
“The need to update it just hasn’t been felt yet I guess, dealing with the facilities of the different sports out there, I believe that they are regularly used enough and if an athlete didn’t know where to go they would console a teammate or coach before looking at a map,” Lathrop said. “There are directory signs in the hallways to help guide students as well regarding classes, North Campus being the maze it is I would be pretty confident in saying those directory signs could use an update though.”
What would have to happen to re-open North Campus housing
Currently the food administration system that oversees the university, Chartwells, operates a small café store at North Campus that offers students, staff and faculty the opportunity for grab-n-go snacks and drinks, something a little less mainstream than the full cafeteria system located on the university’s Main Campus.
There is however a fully, able to be, functioning cafeteria already located at North Campus that is used and operational during the ministry retreats that the section of campus hosts but is put on standby when events are not being hosted there.
“The North Campus cafeteria is used only in functionable service when the school hosts the retreats that they do out there as of now,” Chris Blakeman, senior director of cafeteria operations, said. “Compared to the cafeteria setup and structure of the system that is in operation here at Main Campus, it would take about the same number of staff and workers to have that cafeteria up and running in the same fashion that this one (Main Campus cafeteria) has consistently.”
Another issue that arose in Blakeman’s mind was how they already struggled in filling the gaps in the cafeteria non-meal, operating hours for student workers there. If they can’t have enough volunteers it would result in the system having to hire new roles for a cafeteria that who even knows if it would get used near as much.
Other points of interest surrounding the functionality of a revitalized North Campus is the laundry system, which is a continuation of the issues and struggles that are apparent in the current operations of the system on Main Campus of the university.
With QU having one of the biggest freshman classes in the institution’s history, the increase in student population resulted in something that hasn’t happened recently at the university. The first two floors of Padua Hall were forced to convert to double occupancy freshman male dorms to deal with the overflow in Helien Hall.
This change left some of the residents upset, as the rooms in Padua Hall are smaller than those in Helein Hall. Both buildings are the same price even though the square footage and living quality are not the same.
However the solution to more space and availability for more singles is just down the street. As North Campus has the potential to house students if renovations and upkeep occur.
“So North Campus is a lot of wasted potential right, it’s a huge campus,” Matthew Denum, security officer, said. “It previously did service a dormitory. Unfortunately now it’s in a state of disarray in disrepair and desperately needs to be brought up to code for to meet any sort of minimal standards. But considering how many students there are, yeah, they need the space.”
Denum also commented on the effect of the Padua Hall conversion saying if freshmen students wanted a single room it would be a question on where they were to go.
Denum was not the only security personnel who believed that opening North Campus as additional student housing was a positive option.
“I think it would give us more to do, make us more active all over campus and off campus at North Campus,” Jesse Danielson, a security officer, said. “And it would be an amazing feat for QU in general. As if anything there will be complaints but I think students would definitely be down with a little more room. Especially at North Campus it gives a little more space, gives a little more happiness.”
Security officers like Denum and Danielson already make routine rounds at North Campus. So having housing out there would not shift their usual routine very much.
Although the security officers were on board with the idea of the expansion of housing, there were some logistical aspects for security that would have to be covered.
This includes security cameras as well as key card systems for doors, but all of this added infrastructure depends on what level of security is decided as needed for the building, as different buildings on campus have very different levels of security.
Friars Hall requires students to have clearance or keys to get onto every floor and has security cameras throughout the building. In contrast, Willer Hall has only key card clearance for the front entrance and keys to get into the particular room. Willer Hall has no infrastructure that supports security cameras.
“What you’re talking about if I want to put it in the door, I want this door right here to have a card swipe, if there is no infrastructure there in other words the wiring that comes in and communicates with our computer system it’s about in the ballpark of $2000 to $2,500 per door,” Lathrop said. “So cameras there are probably…I’m guessing, but I’m guessing about $6, $7, $800 a piece depending on so some. Our outdoor cameras have higher resolution, those are a little more expensive plus they’re a little beefier because they’re out outside. So those are more expensive cameras then maybe some of the interior cameras that we have so you would have that plus the wiring. And I’m you know that’s the first thing, $700 for the camera and then whatever the cost to actually having the wiring and stuff in those areas.”
Lathrop also commented that some IT personnel know how to wire some of the security details that would be needed to be added to North Campus. This could potentially cut the cost of the overall security upgrade to the building.
So Why Does All This Matter?
Despite all of what could be considered dead space or areas of unoccupied space at Quincy University’s North Campus building, there is another element to this overall story of trying to revive the aspect of campus that used to thrive in days past.
The revitalization of North Campus could bring jobs during this recession. This is a period of economic downturn and this opportunity could help support the community.
This revitalization could also help solve parking issues on Main Campus and create additional housing. Although there is the potential in the existing North Campus building, there is admittedly a lot of work to be done.
But with that work comes the possibility of having the option of growth. The university can not expand if students have nowhere to go but aren’t supposed to live off campus. Options will always make Quincy University a more attractive option to potential students.
But most importantly, these residential rooms could bridge the gap between North Campus and Main Campus.
This revitalization could be what the school needs to be more connected and involved within the student body.