O’Donnell students and faculty react to hall’s closing during 2016-’17 year

Residents of the all-male O’Donnell Hall have mixed reactions to Marquette’s decision to close their home for the 2016-’17 academic year.

The closing, announced Feb. 5, is happening so the university can evaluate the building’s place future at Marquette. Mary Janz, director of Housing and Residence Life, said there is enough space in other residence halls across campus to house next year’s students.

The 232 current O’Donnell residents won’t be impacted this semester. It is unknown if the hall will eventually be torn down, renovated or left as is.

The announcement came a few weeks after University President Michael Lovell talked about the university master plan, which will plan future campus construction. The plan is slated to be finished by fall 2016, Lovell said during his Presidential Address. He said that, at master plan input forums, a prominent suggestion was to close or renovate O’Donnell.

Steven Snider, a resident assistant in O’Donnell and sophomore in the College of Engineering, said all of the hall’s resident assistants were called to a private meeting Friday to hear the news.

“They told us they have enough vacancies in other buildings to where they can efficiently transfer the crop of these students,” Snider said.

Snider plans on returning as a resident assistant next year, but he is disappointed that he won’t be able to return to O’Donnell.

“If I had the choice between O’Donnell and somewhere else, I know what I’m getting with O’Donnell and would have been pretty comfortable coming back,” Snider said.

Members of O’Donnell’s maintenance team will still remain on staff during the next academic year.

“The main gist is that the people who work here are safe,” said Randy Caston, an O’Donnell custodian. “They are going to evaluate (O’Donnell) and see what the building needs. I’m looking at it as if it’s not closing.”

Kevin Wells, a freshman in the College of Communication, said the news didn’t really surprise him because of the building’s age. O’Donnell first opened its doors in 1950.

“It came as kind of a shock to me because it’s a great place to meet new friends,” Wells said. “Things need to change, but it’s kind of a bittersweet feeling.”

Ben Wiberg, a freshman in the the College of Arts & Sciences, described O’Donnell as a strong brotherhood and called its closing the end of an era.

Wolf Krekel, a senior in the College of Business Administration, and Erich Eichwald, a senior in the College of Health Sciences, are former O’Donnell residents. They said they were saddened upon hearing the news.

“It’s where I met all my friends,” Krekel said. “I know some of the AC and heater units didn’t work. It wasn’t such a structurally sound building.”

Eichwald said living in O’Donnell was an experience unlike any other at Marquette.

“While you are in O’Donnell you complain a lot, but it brings you and everyone else there closer,” Eichwald said. “It will be hard to replicate in the future, giving guys that classic O’Donnell experience.”