Students speak out against demolition of Towers

By Mia Ingui
Managing Assistant

Though it is 2:30 a.m. — the deepest of “quiet hours” on the seventh floor of Wolfe Hall — the space is anything but silent.

Some “low side” residents are gathered in a dorm room, searching for places to sit  — the desk, floor and beds. The room is brutally muggy, since there’s no air conditioning in the building. The slight breeze coming from the windows is the only source of air circulation, but it almost makes the heavy heat bearable. The residents do not care, though. Right now, all they care about is their sing-a-long.

A plan suggests replacing the Towers with a new residence building. (Kim Iannarone / Photo Editor)
A plan suggests replacing the Towers with a new residence building. (Kim Iannarone / Photo Editor)

Song requests are given to the girl who brought her guitar. After Googling the correct chords, she beings to play and the entire group starts to sing. The set list includes Taylor Swift’s “Love Story,” Ed Sheeran’s “The A Team” and the Chainsmokers’ new hit “Closer.” Some sing in tune while others don’t, but in this moment, everyone is worry-free.

But the end of this communal, humid and harmonious era might be approaching sooner than you think.

The possible demolition and reconstruction of Travers and Wolfe halls, currently home to more than 1,100 freshmen at the College, was debated during an open forum on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

The T/W Lounge filled with students who all have prominent opinions on their changing campus.

Vice President for Student Affairs Amy Hecht started the forum by informing everyone that the conversation regarding the Towers’ poor condition first started two years ago, and there is no better time than the present to get the ball rolling on this much-needed upgrade.

Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Sean Stallings gave his condolences to those who are, like most of the College community, attached to the Towers and their experiences there.

“We’re not picking on T/W,” Stallings said. “It has been a great space for students to develop community, despite the setup. But the building is starting to see major failure.”

All attendees were able to add their input on the fate of the Towers. In the end, it was decided that a renovation would prove too costly and would be a poor investment for the College.

The plan then moved to possible new construction of a residence hall right in front of where Travers and Wolfe lie now, replacing the tennis courts with brand new buildings. The proposed plan would begin in five years with construction lasting for two years.

Built in 1971, Travers and Wolfe halls have seen 45 years worth of ambitious College freshmen. Current freshmen living in Travers and Wolfe have quickly grown fond of the Towers and expressed their discontent over its proposed demolition.

“Living in Wolfe was a memory that truly made my freshman year unique,” said Megan Hyjack, a sophomore graphic design major. “The Towers have become a symbol of TCNJ and have so much history behind them. It would be hard to see all of the murals and memories associated with T/W go away for good.”

Chris Kinzler, a current Wolfe 7 resident and a freshman finance major, is happy living through the Towers’ heat and wouldn’t want to change his freshman experience.

“My first impression when I walked into the Towers… was, ‘It’s really hot in there,’” Kinzler said. “But I feel like it’s an iconic part of the school and because we don’t have Wi-Fi, we have to suffer through it and make friends.”

Kinzler sees the need for renovations, but does not believe a complete demolition and reconstruction of the Towers is necessary.

“It is a good investment to build new because I understand how the renovation would be costly,” Kinzler said. “(But) I would only be for a demolition if they would put back up towers. That freshman community is built by putting freshmen in that same place.”    

Alumni are some of the most passionate advocates for Travers and Wolfe.

Alumna Laura Fecak (’03), who is a business teacher at Jackson Memorial High School, said she is not ready to see the iconic towers go.

“Living in the Towers was great,” Fecak said. “It was the first step on my journey as a student at TCNJ. My first and lasting memories took place in those towers — and I loved every minute of it.”

Fecak wants to see the College to find a way to preserve the Towers.

“They should be renovated, not torn down. At a time where they should be expanding and accepting more students because of the reputation the school has, they shouldn’t be downsizing housing options,” Fecak said — the proposed new building would have 200 fewer beds than the Towers currently do, according to Stallings. “There are decades of alumni that have countless memories and emotional connections to those towers. It would be an absolute shame to visit campus and not see them.”