With every new semester comes changes to campus life. This one brings the switching of several dorms between housing men and women at the beginning of the fall semester as well as the permanent closing of the University of Dallas’ outdoor pool.
Some students might not notice the absence of the pool. Emily Baker, a senior economics major and former lifeguard at the pool, said that many other seniors did not know UD had a pool.
“I think for the majority of UD students, it won’t be missed much, if at all,” she said.
She did say that many students who are sophomores this year made use of the pool. This may be because upperclassmen living off campus, such as in the University Place Condominiums and the apartments of Westloop, have access to community pools.
President Jonathan Sanford concurrs, saying, “[The pool] wasn’t used all that frequently even when it was functional, but I’ve noticed there are needs for more recreational space.”
The pool had been a drain on resources and had many problems. In spring 2021, the pool had to close in April for repairs. Sanford elaborated on the fact that the pool was old and required expensive repairs.
“The pool was having problems regularly, I mean, if you walked by, you would notice,” Sanford said. “We were putting money into fixing those problems bit by bit, and they finally said, look, you’re going to have to replace the whole pool, and is that the best location for a new pool of the future? I wasn’t convinced of that, but we had to pull it out anyway and I didn’t want to rush into building a new pool.”
One reason that the pool might have been a bigger drain on resources than necessary was that it was open well into November in the fall semesters. Baker said that she was working for the pool until Nov. 7 last fall. Tim Schlich, resident coordinator and manager of the pool, declined to comment for this article.
Without going into specific plans, Sanford speculated that the school could find a better use for the space rather than using it for a new pool.
“Long term, we need to significantly expand our indoor recreational space, and that location could be a fitting location for a new or expanded gymnasium and workout facilities, and so I didn’t want to tie up that spot forever with a new pool,” he said.
Right now, the pool is partially filled in with debris and rainwater. Some students complain about the noise of bullfrogs coming from the pool. James Latour, a junior physics major, has described the spectacle as “kinda gross,” noting the green and stagnant water and the exposed rubble.
Looking to the more immediate future, the administration is looking to begin by addressing the decrepit remains of the old pool.
Sanford said, “We’ll figure out what to do in the future, and in the meantime, let’s make it look more pleasant and have an opportunity for some other kind of recreational activity.”
As UD awaits the reorganization of the Athletics Complex, another part of campus has already been reorganized.
This year, the freshmen dorms have switched sides; Madonna, Theresa, Catherine and O’Connell on the East side are housing women while, to the West, Gregory and Jerome are housing men. This used to be the arrangement of the dormitories, with the exception that Augustine is also housing women.
Sanford said, “I suppose you might think of this as going back to where we were; so now we have women living in dormitories that are named after women saints.”
“It’s really a back-to-the-future move, since, as the dorms’ names indicate, having males on the west and females in the east dorms was the original configuration,” Dr. Gregory Roper, dean of students, added. “Additionally, it recognizes the complementarity of the sexes, a key feature of Catholic anthropology.”
Sanford’s plans for the dormitories do not just end there. He plans to add more dormitories and adjust the layout and amenities to better encourage community.
“Eventually, I would like to replace a lot of the dormitories,” Sanford said. “We’ve got plans for roughly 100 to 120 beds in dorms, that would be new dorms, and each of those dorms would have a chapel, [and] would have ample recreation space that would be more of an open concept.”
As for Clark Hall, he plans to reconfigure some of the rooms for a more communal feel. The president has received complaints that Clark is lacking in that area. Over the summer, the lobby was altered to add an open-concept kitchen.
Long term, Sanford has an idea to implement a “house system” where students would stay in the same dorm for all four years. He hopes that this will provide opportunities for upperclassmen to stay in the dormitories and build a better community spirit.
“[It’s] an approach that’s worked really well in other universities that I think we would do well to adopt and it would help to more fully integrate the intellectual virtues,” said Sanford, “with human formation, the moral, and the theological virtues through what we do in the church and campus ministry and all of the supporting Catholic orders and outreach opportunities on campus.”