Renovations raise Livingston’s appeal
The improvements underway on Livingston campus are giving students a newfound appreciation for the once stigmatized campus.
Livingston campus is slowly becoming the place to be, with many requesting it as their top residential choice, said Joan Carbone, executive director of Residence Life.
“We have students who are actually complaining about not being placed on Livingston,” Carbone said.
Students have expressed a strong need for improvements over the past years, playing a pivotal role in the administration’s decision to get moving with construction projects, said Gregory S. Blimling, vice president of Student Affairs.
“Students on Livingston were very concerned, and they wanted the University to invest in the quality of the buildings and upgrade the services and programs on the campus,” Blimling said.
The Livingston Dining Hall, the renovated student center and lounges are among the changes to the renovated Livingston campus.
Marc Cunha, a Livingston campus resident, said when she saw Livingston campus less than a year ago, she knew she wanted to live there.
“When I found out I was going to be living on Busch [campus], I was upset because I wanted to be put on Livingston,” said Marc Cunha, School of Engineering first-year student.
The lounges, a food court that includes a Dunkin Donuts, Sbarro’s, and café, as well as the Rutgers Zone, a non-alcoholic sports bar, all show investments and consideration for students’ wants and needs, said Lea Stewart, Livingston campus dean.
“The Student Center was actually motivated by students saying it was about time to do something, so they went and protested down at Old Queens campus and said enough is enough,” Stewart said.
One campus hotspot is the Livingston Student Center’s Rutgers Zone, which offers a billiard pool table and various assortments of arcade games as an option for students to relax and retreat from the daily campus grind, Stewart said.
“This is definitely my favorite campus,” said Jaime Brown, School of Arts and Sciences junior and Rutgers Zone employee.
Stewart said students are also responding well to the new Livingston Dining Commons.
“The dining hall is amazing, probably the best I’ve been to,” said Roberto Polanco, a School of Engineering first-year student. “People told me Busch was the best, but after going there I felt [the new dining hall] was better.”
Livingston also offers nutritional awareness to students who want to learn more about healthy eating habits, Stewart said.
“This year’s theme is ‘Healthy Living,’ and we have programs where we pass out trail mix and have the University dietitian talk about different healthy ways to eat,” she said.
Stewart said the additional trees, benches and landscape designs resonate a community atmosphere
“It’s so nice. College Avenue has of a more city look, but this is small [and] homey. [With] the trees and everything, I think it definitely makes a difference,” said Aisha Khansia, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student.
Blimling anticipates Livingston’s apartments to be finished by the fall of 2012.
“There will be two bathrooms, four single bedrooms, a stainless steal kitchen with a dishwasher, individually controlled heating and air conditioning, wireless Internet, a fitness center in every building with a courtyard in the back,” Carbone said.
Amanda Kabbabe, School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said the continued construction has been an issue especially in terms of parking and atheistic appeal.
“I live in the North Towers, and the way my room is facing you can hear it — it wakes you up early in the morning,” she said. “It’s pretty ugly, and I have no idea what’s beyond this point.”
But Kabbabe said she is excited for what is still to come and understands that once the project is done it will be worth the inconvenience.
“If I had one complaint it would be the construction, there’s a lot of re-routing and stuff, but with the new housing, people are really excited about Livingston. There is a new atmosphere going on,” she said.
Carbone said there are future plans to renovate and develop the campus, but she does not have a deadline of when all construction will be completed.
“It’s certainly not convenient for everyone,” said Larry Porter, senior landscape architect with the Office of Facilities and Capital Planning. “I work on Livingston campus, so I know what the students have to go through, but with every project there are going to be inconveniences, and we’re trying do the best we can.”