Walking through the doors, wandering down the halls and sitting in the lounges of Dykstra Hall this fall will be at once a familiar and foreign experience for Resident Assistant Taimi Jacobson.
The fourth-year economics student will be returning to live in her first dorm at UCLA this year since its major renovations.
The tattered hallways where she made some of her first and best college friends have been gutted, recarpeted and repainted, while the lounges she grew to love are a brighter version of what they once were.
“My first year was the best and most stereotypically college year ever,” Jacobson said.
She is one of many RAs who will live and work in a new or newly refurbished residence hall this year.
Dykstra Hall, which first opened in 1959, will reopen for students this fall after closing for one and a half years for reconstruction. Sproul Cove and Sproul Landing, two entirely new deluxe residential halls, are opening this fall as well. The addition includes rooms for the buildings’ roughly 850 residents and a new commons building, Sproul Presidio, with a multipurpose room, fitness center and dining hall.
The $230 million expansion on the Hill is a large component of the university’s goal to guarantee on-campus housing for four years for first-year students and two years for transfer students, according to Daily Bruin archives. On top of the Sproul additions, the project includes two De Neve deluxe residence halls, called Holly and Gardenia, which opened in early 2012.
The new group of RAs working in the halls will face different challenges, manning the oldest and newest buildings on the Hill.
“The community will be different from what I’ve experienced in the past, but I’m excited to be a part of that process,” said Sunny Singh, an RA in one of the new Sproul buildings anda third-year economics and history student.
Singh, who is General Representative 2 for the undergraduate student government, was an RA last year in Canyon Point, where he supervised mostly first-year students, he said.
“The community will be different from what I’ve experienced in the past, but I’m excited to be a part of that process.”
— Sunny Singh, Resident Assistant in Sproul Cove
“I have mostly second-years, (who) have different interests and needs (than first-years)," Singh said. “I’m really excited for a new challenge."
Camila Gonzalez, a fourth-year political science student, is a first-time RA in Sproul Cove.
“We moved into the buildings last week,” she said. “They are absolutely beautiful.”
Gonzalez said she looks forward to meeting her new residents and gauging their interests as a group, so she can cater her programming to what the students on her floor enjoy. In preparation for the year, she’s already sent out a survey to her residents to see what they like.
Gonzalez said she feels only a bit of anxiety about moving into the new Sproul buildings as an RA.
“Every time I do something new, there’s a little bit of nervousness about what to expect from the unknown – but I think this is a really exciting unknown,” she said. Over in Dykstra, Jacobson said she hopes to bring some of the fun community activities she did as a freshman to her floor this year. As a first-year student, Jacobson remembers building forts in her friends’ rooms and celebrations with other residents on her floor at the end of fall quarter.
“(At the celebration) we all dressed up and took pictures and ate breakfast for dinner,” Jacobson said. “It was really cute.”
“I think we have a great opportunity because we are the first residents in this community. We (get) to set the tone for how Sproul Cove will be in the future.”
— Camila Gonzalez, Resident Assistant in Sproul Cove
She said she’s never been any place where her friends have been as comfortable with one other since then, and hopes this year the floor is as social an environment as it was when she was a freshman.
Jacobson was an RA in Rieber Hall last year. She said the set-up of the rooms in Rieber was unlike Dykstra in that the hall was shaped like an “H,” and Dykstra was a long hallway. Dykstra’s design made it easier to meet people across the hallway from your room, she said. “I hope there are more students hanging out in the lounge (in Dykstra),” she said.
But since Dykstra is now much nicer after its renovation, she said she worries students will stay in their rooms more than they did before the refurbishment because they are more modern.
Gonzales said she is eager to get a fresh start in Sproul Cove this year and start traditions of her own.
“I think we have a great opportunity because we are the first residents in this community,” Gonzales said. “We (get) to set the tone for how Sproul Cove will be in the future.” ▪