The HBKU New Residence Halls
by All Around CMU-Q
By, Francine Dinglasan
Being one of the Community Development Advisors (CDA) on the campus residence halls has given me a privilege to get into the premises of HBKU New Residence Halls back in April when the place was half ready. At that time, we were told that it will be open by Spring Semester this school year. It is very much anticipated because it will not only be a home-away-from-home for international students but it has the capacity to accommodate local students at the same time. It is very much awaited because it is another one of Qatar Foundation’s world class facilities.
In the middle of Fall, it was officially announced that the transition to the new halls will be postponed. Of course this was a disappointment for all of us eager to move in the new fancy facility. Not until our team visited the new halls again did I realize that the delay and the entire wait will be all worth it.
17th of November 2012, Saturday, our team, the New Halls CDA Committee were given the permission to visit and tour around the entire new HBKU Residence Halls and was amazed by the grandeur of this new home waiting for us. Compared to our last visit, the new halls were almost ready this time. We saw the different facilities, different types of rooms; the courtyards and the still- empty- but- soon -to -be –full- of- life Residence Community Center (RCC).
Let me start with the residence halls buildings, the types of rooms and the advance technology that awaits us. The first building, currently called as RH1 (it will be renamed soon), will be similar to traditional residence halls with single rooms. But wait, don’t judge just yet! Each room has its own bathroom and closet, refrigerator, flat screen TV, bed, and cupboards. I probably missed one or two cool techy things you will find in the room but what I will not forget is the digital sign boards beside the door outside. They are basically flat touch-screen computers where you will find advertisements, announcements, can leave message for your friends and many more awesome functions. Oh did I mention that we will not be using keys anymore? Yes, we will have a special type of card which means we do not have to ped-in and ped-out anymore. We just have to swipe the card so we can enter through the main entrance in the RCC and swipe it again to unlock our doors. Isn’t that awesome? Study spaces and common rooms are found in each corner of the building. Common kitchenettes and a giant laundry room will be available too. There is a grand lobby downstairs and a beautiful balcony that overlooks the huge courtyard in the middle of the building. There will certainly be a lot of room for programming and events for all of us! In short, and from the way I see it, RH1 is more or less a single-room high-tech lush hotel.
The other buildings have the same kind of deluxe technology and amenities but they only differ because they have different types of rooms. There is a studio type where the bed, kitchen, closet and bathroom are all in one room. There is the first apartment type which is a one-bed room apartment plus bathroom, kitchen and a living room. And lastly, the second apartment type is a 2-bed room apartment, each room has its own bathroom; there is one kitchen and one living room. All I know is that I will not mind which type of room I will be assigned to next year because all of them are of equal grandeur.
Moving forward, I think the most important thing in campus residence halls is the effort being put into community building especially knowing how diverse HBKU campus is. Hence, I think that this next biggest feature of the new halls that I’m going to talk about will be central to the residence life on campus, the Residence Community Center (RCC). For those of you who pass by where the new halls have been built, the entrance where the tall white wind mills are is what we call the Residence Community Center. It is the main access to the residence halls, a lot like the Student Center with offices, programming spaces, conference rooms, computer rooms and a place where you can check out recreational stuff. However, to make the life of students on campus easier compared to our current situation, the RCC will have a huge dining area where students will be able to buy meal plans. There will be no more complaints about the LAS and Student Center food courts being closed when you need them. In addition to that, a coffee shop will be in the RCC too! Isn’t that convenient? For current residents like me, the dining area and the coffee shop are two great necessities. Soon enough, food will be within reach. Say no more to fast food. Students will have healthier and hopefully more affordable meals. Meal plans will be bought through credit and this credit will be used through our key cards! Isn’t that amazing? We will have an all-in-one card use for access and transactions. Lastly, there will be a small convenience store too! With all of this information, the RCC will surely be the principal scene for campus residence life and community so expect grand events to take place there.
The awesome amenities and high-tech facilities are not the only things to look forward to. What tops everything else is the fact that the new halls will greatly promote sustainability and conversation. The reason we have such advance facilities is that all of these encourage less use of important resources like paper for trees, energy, heat, etc. Every aspect of the new halls is LEED certified (I’ll leave that to you to search). Ever wonder why there are wind mills by the entrance of the RCC? There are also uncountable solar panels found in the rooftops of the building. Energy and water used for each room will be counted and there will be kiosks where students can find out about how much they consume. This encourages conservation and of course, awareness. There will be no more printing of hundreds of advertisements and announcements since everything will be posted on the digital sign boards and screens. With this type of set up, I think we should be proud that we are a community fostering advance technology; we are leaders that address these important issues of sustainability and conservation. We, as students of highly reputable global institutions, shall put in efforts together with the entire HBKU community to act and contribute to the society even in our own little ways.
With all of that said, I know exactly what you are thinking right now: Why are we not moving in this Spring Semester? There are a number of things needed to be considered and unfortunately, I don’t have the exact answer to this. I know one of many reasons and that is the unavailability of one of the most important things to make everything work efficiently- a computer system. The new halls still lack the system that will make everything centralized, from checking in and out, to credits and meal plans, to digital boards and messaging system. It is the most advantageous product the halls will need and to make sure that everything will run smoothly this “system” is still being designed according to the new halls’ needs. Now, don’t you think waiting is better than rushing in? Moving in this Spring without making sure that everything is perfect will cause inconvenience to all of us; whereas if we move in when everything is ready, we are sure that the transition will be smooth. No complaints, less maintenance requests and no problems. I suggest that we make the most out of the time we have left in the current residence halls. Come to our socials and let us know what you think about the HBKU New Halls!