Cougar Place kicks off re-opening with food, football, and more
Cougar Place pulled out the stops as it formally celebrated its re-opening Thursday morning with food, speeches and a ribbon-cutting ceremony, all to welcome students back to campus.
The upperclassman dormitory closed its doors two years ago for extensive renovations, citing poor conditions and a desperate need for repairs. It has been all but completely rebuilt, now boasting private bedrooms in four-room suites with kitchenettes. The building also includes courtyards, lounge space, classrooms and meeting rooms. Roughly $50 million went into the project, which will be paid off through student rent.
“I think (Student Housing and Residential Life) responded to a lot of student requests in how they designed and built the building. I think a lot of the residents appreciate the fact of having individual rooms within their suite — a lot more privacy,” said accounting sophomore and Cougar Place resident assistant Zach Mathew.
Since its closing, students have been staying in other dorms on campus, such as the Quadrangle and Calhoun Lofts, or staying off campus altogether. But it is hoped that students who have moved off campus will choose to come back.
“Since this is a new building, I actually (love being an RA). I’m really up to the challenges that it’ll face. I think everybody has their own room, so it’s kind of hard to get people to get out of their rooms to do community events,” said pre-pharmacy junior and Cougar Place RA Bright Yorka.
Though the dorm has been open since the start of the school year, Thursday’s ceremony officially initiated it. The celebrations kicked off with a ribbon cutting attended by contractors and administrative staff who worked on the project, as well as President Renu Khator and a representative from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s office. Students and RAs then mingled, toured the dorm and enjoyed free food and drinks.
“It’s exciting to see all the new residents living here and how excited they are about this year. From what I can tell, everyone really likes the building and I feel like we’ll be able to create a real strong sense of community here,” Mathew said.
The evening finished with a kick-off party celebrating the beginning of the NFL season. Students watched the first game of the season on the first floor of the building, which was converted into a non-alcoholic sports bar. The event was the first of many that are planned to bring residents together.