By Corinne Shuford, Contributing Writer
When I thought of “pods” the first things that came to my mind were otherworldly, maybe even extraterrestrial, buildings from an alien movie. Maybe that’s why Residence Life is insisting on calling the new residential buildings “University Place.”
No one was surprised by the urgent need for additional housing—most people living on campus still remember the rush to make the Whit co-ed—but many were shocked that living in the pods was even an option. The college still wasn’t finished building them, and it was almost March!
But when the students came back, eight shiny new buildings stood behind Kroger. “We had a short window. Some said we couldn’t do it, but we didn’t have a choice,” said Steve Stanford, vice president for administration and government affairs, “and the designs were limited by affordability.”
The college built them all over the break in record time. May to August. Four months. The contractors were bound to let things fall by the wayside. Rumors started circulating—faulty air conditioning, unreliable lighting, and other problems.
Thin walls, trains at night, small sinks, and an excitable fire alarm are numbered among some of the problems the students have experienced in the pods.
Mary Heath, a first year senior English major said, “There are a few electrical problems, but the maintenance people have been working really hard to fix it.” When the air conditioner on the third floor decides to give up she and her suite-mates just open one of the enormous windows and let the air circulate. “It’s really not a problem,” she said.
Another source who wishes to remain anonymous said, “[there are] so many issues with the building—fire alarms, dishwashers won’t work, AC isn’t consistently working.” He then went on to say, “Our dishwasher wasn’t plugged in before it was pushed back into its spot under the counter… one of my roommate’s doors wasn’t fully connected to the hinges…”
After hearing all these problems, The Mississippi Collegian decided to investigate the pods itself. What it saw were uniform, three-story constructs just beyond the Healthplex with an open quad area nestled between the buildings. Wooden porch swings and decorative landscaping made the area seem warm and welcoming. “The pods are very attractive. They changed the Clinton skyline,” said Dr. Stanford.
The pods: brick residential housing capable of housing a total of 189 students. Four people to a suite. And each group of suite-mates are provided with a kitchen and living area. The buildings are equipped with two washers and two driers a piece. Everyone gets their own room. However, a meal plan is not included.
Even without the meal plan, the cost of living in the pods is high. The difference between the cost of living in West and the cost of living in the Pods is $72. And yes, that does include the meal plan for the West-dwellers.
However, pod-people get their own rooms, a lounge area for each suite and a kitchen. There is also a certain measure of freedom that comes with living in the pods.
Despite the setbacks, the hang ups and the price tag, Mary Heath said it was a “good idea for MC to do this.” University Place housing is different from dorm life, a bit more detached. Having apartment housing for undergrads is a great way to prepare them for the outside world. “It’s a big transition into adulthood,” she said, smiling.
Maddison Rose Douglas, a junior studying for a Biology degree, concurred, “It’s really great to have our own space and have a sense of a little more freedom.” The best part about the new housing, she said, was having her “own room and a bathtub.”
Many might be concerned about the walk between campus and the pods, especially late at night, but Mary said, “I feel safe… MC security still has a presence here, and [the pods are] pretty well lit.”
“It’s worth it,” said Mary Heath. “My favorite part is having people over to dinner.” The pods really are a home away from home.
“We do not want the inconveniences to continue,” said Stanford. He stated that the contractors hired to build the pods were responsible for the state of the building. “We have them contracted for twelve months. If we have a problem we call them over, and they work to fix it.”
“We want you to be proud to be at Mississippi College,” said Stanford. “This college is a unique, special place with a special mission. No one completely understands the impact MC has on the world socially, spiritually, and professionally.”
And we are proud. Mississippi College is a special institution with a fantastic staff and a beautiful campus. University Place is new and not without its faults, but with time and patience it will become a valuable addition to the campus.