INFRASTRUCTURE

After the blast: University of Nevada Reno moots new student housing plan

SOURCE: University of Nevada, Reno
University of Nevada Reno has proposed interim housing for its students, following the blast earlier this month.

University of Nevada, Reno has entered into talks with Eldorado Resorts to secure interim housing for its students, after a boiler explosion earlier this month left two dormitories uninhabitable.

The university is working on an agreement that will see the newly renovated, non-gaming West Tower (Sky Tower) of Circus Circus Reno, located less than a mile south of the school’s campus, rebranded to the institution and exclusively lived in by its students and employees.

The arrangement would provide the 1,300 student beds the university needs to make up for the loss of housing at the damaged Argenta and Nye Halls.

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According to details on the proposal, University of Nevada, Reno will rename the interim hall Wolf Pack Tower. Students living there will come under the care of the school’s student housing body, the University Residential Life and Housing, as they had while at the Argenta and Nye Halls.

This allows them to participate in its programmes and activities, which are designed to enhance the student experience and help new recruits transition to university life.

“Our plan is to seamlessly integrate Wolf Pack Tower into the university’s housing experience,” Marc Johnson, University of Nevada, Reno president said in an update on the university’s website.

“We are extremely fortunate to have a nearby property manager who understands what the needs of our programme are and who has agreed to work with us on transitioning their property into a space university students will thrive in.”

Student housing at UNR
What a room at the Wolf Pack Tower might look like. Source: University of Nevada, Reno

Responding to safety concerns following the July 5 blast, the university has pledged to provide the necessary resources to keep all residents at the Wolf Pack Tower safe. 

Students will use a key-card system to enter and exit the building via access points that are separate to the that used by visitors to Circus Circus Reno. All entrances and exits to the tower will be guarded round-the-clock by university employees. 

Additionally, the institution says University Police Services are also planning for a substation in the building, with a dedicated officer patrolling the premises 24/7. There will also be security cameras installed for an added layer of security.

In keeping with the university’s pledge to ensure a seamless transition for those affected by the blast, residents of the Wolf Pack Tower will follow the programming theme initially established for Argenta Hall – Civic Engagement. 

This means they will continue to get access to Residential Life programmes and activities in the building that are geared towards service-learning and community-volunteering activities.

“We feel it is vitally important that the 1,300 students, who will not be living in Argenta and Nye Halls this fall, still have an integrated university housing experience, one that will include all of the support infrastructure we know is vital to first-year students’ success and retention,” said University of Nevada, Reno vice president of Student Services Shannon Ellis.

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Resident directors (full-time, live-in and master’s-level faculty) and a full-time site director will be available at the Wolf Pack Tower. There will also be live-in academic mentors offering tutoring hours on the larger floors, granting student residents the full suite of services offered by University of Nevada, Reno’s student housing facilitators. 

For transport, a private bus company will shuttle the students to and from housing and the university campus seven days a week. Campus escort vans will be made available during the evenings while the students can also use their Wolf Pack access cards for free RTC rides all year long.

For those who drive, they will be provided free parking at the parking garage attached to and designated for Wolf Pack Tower.

Finally, the university says it will also provide temporary dining facilities for all residence hall students with a meal plan. The facilities will be available through two temporary structures to be built sequentially beginning the week of August 12. 

In the plaza east of the Great Basin Hall, pre-fabricated dining/kitchen modules will be set up for that purpose while the Overlook Cafe will continue to operate as a dining facility. Come November, a semi-permanent dining facility on the lawn between Thompson Hall and the Jot Travis building will be set up for the students.

Wolf Pack Tower students will be able to access these temporary dining facilities, the university says.

Wolf Pack Tower exterior
A view of the exterior of Wolf Pack Tower. Source: University of Nevada, Reno

Commenting on the plans, Eldorado Resorts president and chief operating officer Anthony Carano said: 

“We have a long and proud tradition in our northern Nevada community of coming together in times of critical need, this being one of those times.

“Fortunately, we at Eldorado Resorts are in a position to help the university by making our non-gaming Circus Circus Sky Tower available to student housing. We are fully prepared to collaborate with university leadership for as long as it takes.”

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On July 5, two explosions occurred at the Argenta and Nye student dormitories, causing major damage to both halls and injuring eight people, six of whom were students. There were no deaths. 

The explosions were said to have been an isolated incident that occurred in Argenta’s boiler room. 

University authorities reportedly hosted town hall meetings on Wednesday to provide clarity on its student living and dining services proposal.