UTSA opens Guadalupe Hall: students express praise, concern

Dionne Onyemalzu, who moved from West Texas, is optimistic for the rest of the semester. Also pictured is the front of Guadalupe Hall and its coffee shop. Kaitlyn Rosas/The Paisano

Bella Nieto, News Editor

At the start of the Fall 2021 semester, UTSA opened the doors to its newest residence hall, Guadalupe Hall. 

When construction on the building began in 2019, the floor plans were designed to be open spaces with an academic lounge on each floor and engagement spaces like kitchens, e-gaming areas, and a small gym. The space also has a coffee shop, which is something exclusive to the building. Guadalupe has 200 double occupancy rooms: facilitating 360 students with sub-communities who share a bathroom pod. The building’s design was meant to create a sense of community within its walls that would foster student success and well-being. Many students expressed that the new accommodation allowed them to easily make friends, including Dionne Onyemalzu.

The lounge and common areas, according to Onyemalzu, are great ways to meet fellow students. 

“Everyone comes to talk together, and watch TV…I think it’s really nice to live here because everyone is so friendly: it’s like a little community, a little family.”

Similarly, freshman mechanical engineering major Hugo Gonzalez explained how the living facility went above and beyond his expectations.

“At first the thought of a bathroom pod being shared with other people kind of threw me off a little bit, but now that I’m here it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. …” Gonzalez said. “I really enjoy these common areas where you get to come study and congregate, so I’ve liked it…  The little groups that we have. We have movie nights and game nights. We are pretty tight-knit. It’s only been two weeks, but we are pretty close already.”

Other students indicated their displeasure with the “close-knit” quarters especially within the bathroom pods. Freshman Makua Mcnobe explained that each hall has two bathrooms on each side, so students are expected to go to the bathroom closest to them. 

“It could probably be up to 30 people sharing a bathroom,” Mcnobe said. “It definitely makes me uncomfortable because some people don’t clean up after themselves. Sometimes I’ll go to the restroom and see hair everywhere and I don’t really like that.”

Onyemalzu,who previously expressed how delighted she was with the community style of living, also touted the bathroom as a downside to the resident hall.

 “I hate sharing a bathroom. …,” Onyemalzu said. “But sharing a bathroom is weird because you see some weird stuff that you don’t want to see. There’s like hair everywhere and sometimes the light turns off on you and you have to walk to turn the light back on… it’s weird sharing a bathroom with the opposite gender because you never know what to expect, it’s something you have to get used to. …”

Having a communal restroom was also a disadvantage for freshman Seraphim Apetuje.

“For the most part it’s not that bad, but at the same time I feel like I would rather have a bathroom attached to my room than to go out just to use the restroom,” Apetuje said. “And sometimes people don’t have the best hygiene so it’s kind of hard to find a decent shower to shower in or bathroom to use.”

Alongside the bathroom, residents of Guadalupe also mentioned their safety concerns. Diane Gorinez, a junior and a neuroscience major, recounted a safety breach that happened earlier in the week.

 “We had an accident where some guy walked in and tried to get into someone’s dorm,” Gorinez said. “We spend so much money for it to be secure and…so it wasn’t necessarily fun.” 

There were indications when something was afoot at the residence hall when students noticed cop cars outside.  

“No one was really told that something was there other than a couple of cop cars that were there. They should have a citizen app to notify of an issue because people can freely come in and out and I’m not ok with it,” Gorinez said. 

Both Gonzalez and Onyemalzu, who had been in favor of the openness of the dorms, feel that there were more precautions to be taken, saying that there could be more vigilance on the entrances. 

“I feel like safety-wise, they need to work on the safety and program it so that people with only ID can get in,” Onyemalzu said. 

Onyemalzu asserts that students must be “cautious” of “where [they’re] going, who [they’re] going with;” If students see something “strange,” it is important to “report or talk about it.”

The students who conveyed their discomfort with the close living quarters, bathrooms and safety indicated that they would look for a living alternative next year have a better experience. Freshman Jordyn Wheeler and Apetuje said they would look for an off-campus apartment next year as did Mcnobe, who was discomforted by the bathroom pods.

 “This year I have to stay here unless I can fill out a room request change. I would probably do that, but next year I would definitely want to live in an apartment off-campus,” Mcnobe said.  

Gorniez shared that she would move as well, citing another incident that happened previously.

“Honestly it’s not that worth it because in the other dorms you can have your own room, you can have your own bathroom, you can pay for whatever, but over here you don’t have a choice,” Gorniez said. “Literally the first week our restroom broke so the whole restroom flooded and all of the nasty water got onto the carpet, so we had no restroom for a couple of days. We all had to share a bathroom, a singular restroom, that has one shower and that’s it. If I would have known, I would have moved into Chap.”

The disadvantages to living at Guadalupe Hall, including bathroom inconveniences and safety concerns, are matched with the advantages of having a sense of community.