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Just How Old is the Olde?

By Reneé Medina

H-Street of the Olde in 2019 (via Reneé Medina)

In the wake of Hurricane Ida, which flooded parts of Purchase College, students living on campus were left questioning the sustainability of their residence halls.

A conversation not new to the Facebook Open Forum, the page has been buzzing with discussions of what else the school needs to do to provide a quality and safe living experience for its residents, specifically in apartment buildings like the Olde.

Michael Kopas, the Senior Director of Facilities and Capital Planning said, “We evaluate our housing every year and identify where improvements are needed.”

He said that Wayback, for example, was built to specifically meet the needs of students and to provide a state-of-the-art residential facility. Wayback, the newest residence hall, also includes solar panels on the roof, energy-efficient heating, and cooling equipment, and was also built with renewable/recycled materials.

“As for the Olde, within the last few years we have replaced all the flooring and furniture, painted both inside and out, and improved the heating,” he said. “We've also made improvements to the exterior landscaping around the complex making the paths more accessible, adding outdoor furniture, and planting new flowering trees.”

The Olde, also known as Phase 1, was built in 1967 and is one of the original dormitories on campus. It was first occupied in 1981. As mentioned on the Purchase website, “The buildings suffer from a number of issues ranging from roof leaks, deteriorating wood siding, original windows and doors, and a number of other issues which has led to the infiltration of water into the building, accelerating the complex’s overall deterioration.”

To combat some of these issues, Kopas said that they’d like to prioritize the replacements of the roofs in the Olde next.

“The complex is one of the oldest on campus and needs more attention as the years pass by," he said. "We are making improvements and plan to continue.”

Yasmine Obie, a 20-year-old sociology major, has been living in the Olde since the start of her third year. “I’m on J-Street and the rooms were redone beautifully,” she said.

Unlike many students who have a preference as to where they live on campus, Obie did not mind being placed in the Olde. Typically, the Olde is where third-year students live, except for students who are eligible to live in these apartments with the right number of credits.

“I think the Olde is very nice. I enjoy that the apartments are close together. It gives a sense of community,” she said. “This is one of the modern living spaces on campus.”

Leah Gray, a junior opera major, has opposing views on living in the Olde. Gray, who also lives on J-Street submitted photos of what her current apartment looks like.

“We needed to get our stove and oven replaced because it wouldn’t stop sparking,” she said. “You can see how dirty it is on the wall.”

A missing stove and oven in the Olde (via Leah Gray)

Among other things in her apartment, Gray raised concern over the condition of the bathtub which was marked as “good” on a room report. “Clearly, there’s a chunk missing.”

The chipped bathtub in Gray's apartment (via Leah Gray)

Alanna Smith, a senior who recently transferred to Purchase, living on J-street said that living in the Olde was her third choice.

“I don’t think it’s anyone’s first choice to live in as there are much nicer apartments,” she said.

Like many other students, Smith preferred to live in the Alumni Village which is popular for being one of the “nicer” residential areas. Smith said, “I don’t think the Olde was meant to house people long-term and the constant breaking of appliances and the building itself shows that.”

Students living on J-Street are starting to see the Olde unravel and reveal its age through its detriment, despite being occupied for only over 40 years.

A hole in the wall of a bathroom in the Olde (via Alanna Smith)

Kopas said, “The buildings in the 1970s just weren’t built with potential expansion or improvements in mind. Potential rehabilitation of some of the bathrooms is more realistic.”

“If there’s something the Olde isn’t, it’s modern; It’s literally in the name, Olde,” said current student, Robert Cornal. The 21-year-old is currently a senior, living on H-Street.

Despite the apartments on H-Street being renovated, he said, “Having an AC would be nice or maybe one of those nice tables I see on J street, but I have a couple of fans, so I make do.”

Fort Awesome, Wayback, and Outback are all upper-classmen residence halls that students can live in, some nicer than others. “I liked living in Fort; I lived above Starbucks so the Wi-Fi was A-1, my room was big, and we had AC," he said.

Overall, Cornal is keeping a positive outlook during his stay at the Olde continuing his in-person education.

“I consider myself fortunate to even be here in the first place," he said. "I almost didn’t come back. It’s my final semester too, so I don’t want to deal with any of the ordeals of the residence halls like meal plans, fire alarms, and nosy RA’s.”



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