Doors to 4 ISU residence halls close

By WEEK Producer

July 28, 2012 Updated Jul 28, 2012 at 8:09 PM CDT

NORMAL, Ill. -- Some of them came back to take one last look. Others to reminisce.

The cramped dorm room that was once their home during their college years won't have a new occupant this fall.

After more than 50 years, Illinois State University is closing the Atkin-Colby and Hamilton-Whitten residence halls.

Jodi Sullivan met some of her closest friends there.

"We've been to each others weddings, we've been in each others weddings," said Jodi Sullivan. "We still talk all the time."

And on Saturday they talked about old times.

"One of the best memories that I have is there was a sand volleyball pit on the other side of my dorm," said Russ DeFord, "and there were many days we'd kill a lot of time just kind of burning off some steam playing out there."

Hamilton-Whitten opened in the fall of 1960. Atkin-Colby two years later. Rita Hensley remembers when she first moved in.

"It still smelled new. There was nothing on the walls, there were no dents, no little pieces of things falling off the ceiling," said Hensley.

Darlene Wills, who like Hensley moved into Atkin-Colby in 1965, remembers the strict rules.

"On Saturdays we had room check and if your room was dirty you got a dirty sock hung on your door knob and you were publicly ostracized," explained Wills.

In the 1980's the four residence halls were some of the first in the country to have their own fitness center. And then in the '90's to be wired for computers.

But they're not state of the art now. The rooms don't have sprinklers, which are required by state law. And the university has determined the necessary renovations are too expensive. That means about 1,500 students will have to find somewhere else to stay.

"In the fall we're opening Cardinal Court apartments. That will help make up for some of the difference," said Jamie Wood, who works in ISU housing services. "That will be primarily for sophomore students. And then otherwise I will have enough room on campus to house those who are required to live with us which are people that have been out of high school less than two years."

Along with the four residence halls ISU is also decommissioning the Feeney Dining Center.