The new Harrington Hall was still undergoing repairs when the first week of classes started.
Some water fountains were missing parts and not operational, painting was not finished and there was no wi-fi or cable service in the lounges. The new kitchen was also closed.
“No, [they’re] not [finishing up] renovations, they’re finishing up deficiencies,” said Philip Cliff, director of facilities management at St. Thomas University, in an interview on Thursday.
“The other things are supposed to be tidied up by the end of the week,” Cliff said, adding the deficiency list is subject to change.
Scott Duguay, associate vice-president of enrolment management, said “everything of importance” is finished. He said contractors were working “night and day” to complete the renovations.
“The things that we concern ourselves with the most are done. It’s the cosmetic things that we’re wrapping up,” said Duguay.
The bedrooms were finished, with the exception of armoires in some rooms.
“We wouldn’t have opened it if it wasn’t safe for the students to be in there,” said Cliff.
Second-year student Alex Cooke said he was glad the rooms were finished, but was a bit frustrated the kitchen wasn’t done.
“You kind of have to fend for yourself … You basically had to spend money and order take-out all the time, which is pricey,” Cooke said.
“If I wanted a midnight snack, I had to use my own utilities, which I went out and bought because I thought they’re probably not going to be done for a month or so.”
There are microwaves in all the lounges, but there are no fridges or stoves in other areas of the building. Students who moved in early when residence opened on Aug. 26 were given the option of having a temporary key to Vanier to access the kitchen there.
Students who moved in on the designated days for first and upper-year students were only allowed access to the Vanier kitchen if they “identified with us as having an issue and needing their own ability to cook,” residence manager Matthew Sprague said in an email.
“The microwaves that they ordered [for the lounges], when you open them, they turn on and they rotate while you open them … I came into a room and the [microwave] door was open and it was running, so I closed it,” Cooke said.
However, Cooke described the building as beautiful.
“Yeah, it’s a nuisance that the kitchen and the water fountains weren’t operating, but you can survive. It’s not that big of a deal,” Cooke said.
When asked if there was anything he wished would have been included in the renovations, he paused to think.
“No, not particularly,” he said. “The only thing that I wish they would put up is the TV and the internet in the lounge, because I find that makes it more sociable for people.”
The amenities in the new building include floors with gender neutral bathrooms, individually controlled heating, movable furniture and access to the building via swiping a student ID.
“With a new building there’s always some [tweaks] that need to be worked out,” Cliff said.
Along with the deficiencies, there is a tub room that is still being renovated and will be finished in the coming weeks.
“One thing we definitely want to do is sit on Harrington a little bit to … learn from that construction,” Duguay said.
Duguay said that Vanier would likely be renovated next, although he is not sure when.