Six months after its official opening, the newly constructed Brody Square appears to be a key factor in students’ living arrangement plans for the coming school year.
Suzette Welch, service centers manager with Campus Living Services, said more students are choosing to live in Brody Neighborhood based on the area’s recent dining facility improvements.
“I think it’s been a big impact on people just coming to Brody (Neighborhood),” she said.
“Last year at this time, we had 100 people signed up (to live in Brody Neighborhood), now this year we have 500 or 600.”
Statistics point to a marked increase in student residence numbers. A report from the Department of Residence Life, indicates the number of returning student residents in the complex is 619 as of mid-February.
That figure is up from 119 total returning students for fall 2010. Butterfield Hall has seen the highest increase with 194 students signed on to live there in the fall. About 375 students have signed on to live in Emmons Hall, which was left vacant this year for renovations.
Along with drawing more people toward the complex, Welch said the cafeteria and accompanying renovations have had a major impact on the way people view the neighborhood as a whole.
“I don’t think it’s had any negative impacts on the Brody Neighborhood,” she said.
“I think the whole stereotype of Brody (Neighborhood) being a freshman dorm and not a very nice place to live has changed.”
Sharri Margraves, director of Campus Living Services, echoed similar thoughts, citing overwhelmingly supportive reactions from visitors to the complex.
“I think the biggest thing we’ve heard is nothing but positive,” she said.
“People can’t believe what they’re seeing. The people that have been to Brody (Neighborhood), people have an affinity for the hall and they’re just blown away.”
Guy Procopio, director of Culinary Services, said a new approach to the dining experience helped transform the cafeteria into the draw it is today.
“When you go out to eat, you eat with your eyes — what we intentionally did, we created eight great concepts, but we also didn’t stop there,” he said.
“We created eight unique dining environments. … There’s so many different dining experiences, you can literally start from top to finish and have 80 different experiences before you have to start over.”
Those experiences center around more than just eating. Procopio said he wants the cafeteria to become an extension of students’ living communities.
“We want our students not just to be able to come and dine, we want them to be able to come and study,” he said.“We want that to be an extension of your living-learning experience.”
The cafeteria and other improvements to Brody Neighborhood have brought in an unprecedented number of expected student residents for next year, Procopio said.
“I’ve never seen (these kinds of numbers) in my entire career,” he said.
“It’s absolutely already getting some favorable results. Students are wanting to live in Brody after their freshman year.”
Medical technology freshman and current Brody Neighborhood resident Lauren Armbruster — who plans to live in Emmons Hall in Brody Neighborhood next year — said both the cafeteria and the renovations played a large part in her decision to remain in Brody.
“I enjoy eating in the cafeteria because there’s a lot of options … and I like the dorms because they’re new, and they’re bigger,” she said.“I wanted to live somewhere new, and then I saw the renovations they had in store for Emmons (Hall) and I liked what I saw.”