Last Monday, Gonzaga’s Housing and Residence Life sent out an email alerting students that all resident halls would be closing on Dec. 14th, four days before the men’s basketball game against the University of North Carolina. While the email did offer discounted lodging at local hotels for students who wanted to stay in town for the game, many were left wondering how this situation happened in the first place.
“Basketball tends to have games well into break and we just didn’t know how deep the game would be,” said Jon Wheeler, director for Residence Life. “In the past there has been a game that has happened one or two days after we have closed the dorms and we have accommodated that, but it is just too deep into break.”
When the student body first heard the news the disappointment of the underclassmen was definitely felt.
“Personally, my perspective on this is I wish they would give all freshman and sophomore students the opportunity to stay on campus. This is the biggest game to ever come to Spokane. Yet, I am still optimistic that we will have a full Kennel for this game,” Matt Cranston, Kennel Club President said in an email.
The news even elicited a tweet asking the university to keep the resident halls open from Corey Kispert, junior forward for the Gonzaga men's basketball team.
“Please find a way for the students to stay on campus for Carolina on Dec 18th...we need some revenge and they will definitely help,” said Kispert in the tweet.
While the tweet did reflect some underclassmen as well as alumni for a packed Kennel.
“It makes sense why they want student participation and we understand that. Unfortunately, we just aren’t able to accomodate them this year,” Wheeler said.
Should Housing and Residence Life attempt to keep dorms open for students there would be a lot of things that would have to be considered.
“There are concerned with safety and welfare. There is also a liability issue what if something happened and there was no one there to respond to it,” Wheeler said. “Holding the staff back a few days would be fine, but the cost to the department would be too significant to ask them to do it this year."
However, there have been some situations in past years where Residence Life had kept resident halls open for students.
“About two years ago the St. Mary’s game happened a few days before we reopened the dorms. All the residence life staff was already on campus for training so it was easy to reopen the dorms,” Wheeler said.
When resident halls are kept open or reopened early it is usually because a third party requested it from Housing and Residence Life.
“Typically the athletic department reaches out to ask us to keep residence halls open, but this year it was the Kennel Club advisors who asked us to remain open this year,” Wheeler said.
“When we learned of the decision we tried to advocate for underclassmen but at that point the decision was already finalized,” Cranston said.
The official email alerting all on-campus residents was not just the work of housing alone.
“The email that was sent out was a collaboration between housing and residence life, the dean of students and the provost,” Wheeler said. “The hotel wasn’t our idea but it was the best option out there. Students wouldn’t be too far from campus and it’s early enough that they wouldn’t be crossing paths with folks coming in for Christmas.”
As it stands the residence halls will be closing on Dec. 14th and students will have to find some other way to cheer on the Zags for this game.