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The University Star




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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

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Arnold and Smith Halls close, potentially face demolition

Arnold+and+Smith+Halls+close%2C+potentially+face+demolition
Melanie Camara

Editor’s Note: the former Smith Hall Resident Assistant quoted in the story has requested to stay anonymous as they plan to still work for the Department of Housing and Residential Life and do not want to risk losing their job.

Arnold Hall and Smith Hall, two resident halls that have housed Bobcats since the 1960s, sit in the outskirts of the LBJ Student Center. Now, their storied histories will come to a close as the Department of Housing Residential Life (DHRL) have shut them down.

Beginning fall 2024, Arnold and Smith Halls will no longer house freshmen. The reason for the closures is rooted in preserving “the university’s flexibility moving forward,” according to Executive Director of DHRL Bill Mattera in a written interview with The University Star.

“TXST is carefully considering its next steps related to housing growth. With the opening of Alamito and Cibolo Halls this fall, we have made the decision to assign no residents to Arnold or Smith Halls for the fall 2024 semester,” Mattera wrote.

Mattera said Alamito and Cibolo Halls, otherwise known as Hilltop Housing, will bring sufficient housing in the fall for all first-year students to live on campus.

In previous years, such as the 2022-23 school year, overpopulation took over Texas State’s resident halls forcing freshmen to live in hotels around San Marcos. However, Alamito and Cibolo are expected to bring in 1,006 new beds and close the on-campus housing gap. Arnold and Smith brought in a collective 273 beds.

“The Hilltop Project has included a second phase of housing to be placed on the site of Arnold and Smith Halls since it was adopted years ago,” Mattera wrote.

Due to the second phase of the Hilltop Housing project, Mattera said DHRL is considering demolishing Arnold Hall and Smith Hall.

But for one former Resident Assistant (RA) at Smith Hall, news of the dorms’ impending demolition came as a shock. He said the RAs were initially told they had another year at the dorms before demolition.

It wasn’t until May 8 when another RA put in maintenance requests and received a response from maintenance saying “these items will go down with the ship,” they realized spring 2024 was the last semester for the resident halls. On May 9, DHRL staff gathered the RAs for an in-person meeting and told them then, according to Mattera.

“There were 12 returning RAs who were reassigned to those dorms [for fall 2024] in February, so when we found out everyone was confused and freaking out,” the RA said. “It felt like they wouldn’t have told us if we didn’t find out.”

The 12 RAs have now been reassigned to new dorms for the 2024-25 school year, the RA said.

Resident Director (RD) of Arnold and Smith Halls Dominique Peel, who falls under the scope of full-time staff, said his director and supervisor told him of the dorms shutting down in a May 8 meeting. He was told he would be reassigned to a new resident hall.

“It’s pretty sad because I planned on coming back at that time for another year, and the burden is having to move out of my apartment because I live here,” Peel said.

Peel also said DHRL told him the reason for the closures was that Texas State would save $40 million in construction costs and “things of that nature.”

“I was told the university was saving money and it would just be easier to knock the building down since it had some structural damage to it already,” Peel said.

Now, Peel has decided to leave Texas State and his job as an RD.

Mattera said Arnold Hall was constructed and opened on Russell Circle in 1962, and Smith Hall was constructed and opened also on Russell Circle in 1958, making it currently the oldest resident hall on campus.

Gaspar Apolinar, a music performance sophomore, lived in Smith Hall during the 2023-24 school year. He said it doesn’t come as a shock that Smith is the oldest resident hall as that was sometimes reflected in the conditions.

“We had no water for a week. We had a water fountain in the lobby that would break constantly. Washing machines would go out of order,” Apolinar said. “I remember hearing maintenance people complain about having to repair something at Smith all the time.”

As staff cleaned and closed up Arnold and Smith Halls for the final time in May, the RA said it was sad to let go of the community they built there.

“It wasn’t about how beautiful the dorms are, it was about the community and the staff members, and all of the returners were really excited to work with each other again,” the RA said.

For more information on Texas State housing options, visit DHRL’s website.

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