Farewell to Stafford Hall

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Stafford Hall, one of West Texas A&M University’s oldest residence halls, which has housed over fifty years of WTAMU students, is being demolished. This supposedly haunted building, that was opened in 1936, has had a prominent position in the memories of the WTAMU students who dwelt in it. Located on the corner of Russel Long Blvd. and 23rd Street, it gave band students easy and quick access to Mary Moody Northern Hall, and performance majors a short walk to the Fine Arts Complex. Additionally, the old building had no air conditioning, walls permanently marred by the adhesives of previous occupants, and a contingency to house cockroaches as well as college students.

But alongside these sometimes unfortunate eccentricities, Stafford also had a pleasant exterior, a long history of good, lasting community and a proficiency in bringing people together. Upon hearing the news of the demolition, many alumni returned to Canyon in order to pay their respects to the building, and several called to inquire as to why such an undertaking had been decided upon.

“It’s an older building and a lot of maintenance needs. The cost of maintaining it just day to day, every year, would continue to go up,” said Jeff Sulik, senior director of residential living. He went on to explain that a comprehensive facilities master plan had been drawn up approximately two years ago, outlining a seven to ten year plan that would include the complete renovation of the buildings on 23rd street. Stafford’s demolition was part of that plan. The hall was consequently closed in May of 2019. Total occupancy on the campus as a whole also played a part in the decision. 2019 saw the completion of the Jarrett Hall renovation, meaning that almost 400 beds were reopened to campus-dwelling students.

“The last update I got was that the utilities were now being shut off and capped this week,” Sulik said. “And then the actual final demolition is going to take place… over the next couple

of weeks. So within a couple of weeks, that will be a flattened area on campus. So, it’ll be gone forever.”

This news has been met fairly well with some previous residents of Stafford.

“I’m okay with it,” said Cason Waters, a senior double majoring in business management and business healthcare administration. “Because it’s an awful dorm, with no air conditioning and lots of mold and mildew. And bugs. And who knows what other diseases. Stafford wasn’t normal.”

Waters had lived in Stafford during the spring semester of 2018, after transferring to WTAMU from South Plains College. He described his experiences in Stafford as, “always new, always different” and is excited for the parking the demolition will provide.

“I liked Stafford, honestly,” said Musa Khan, a junior computer science major, as he played Smash Bros. with the friends he had made during his time in Stafford last year. He went on to praise the community of the hall, and the easy access it provided into the lives of the other residents.

“Goodbye, asbestos,” was all Ben Bennett had to say. Bennett is a sophomore business management major and had lived in Stafford as a freshman during its last year.

“So, any old building is going to have some asbestos in it,” Sulik said, regarding the rumors of asbestos. “At no point while students were living there was there any danger to that. Any asbestos that was still in the building wasn’t outward-facing… nothing that students would come into contact with day to day… Certainly, if there was, we would have taken care of it… while students were living there. But there wasn’t a need to, because it’s not a health concern.”

Stafford may not have been a health concern, but there are still those who are glad to hear of its coming demise. Jeff Sulik is not one of them.

“It was a hard decision to close it. I love Stafford. I think it’s just a really cool building. It’s got a cool little quirks in it from its age… the red brick, the gabled roofs. I mean, all of that was quintessentially college to me. So, I hate losing it,” Sulik said. “Anytime that you’re having to move away from some of that history, it’s difficult. But… we’re taking an old building that was hard to manage and maintain, that didn’t have a lot of the amenities that students want from their living environments. And, you know, we’re able to do some different things because we don’t have that expense in Stafford… We can dedicate those funds elsewhere.”

WTAMU students may be sad to see the old building go, but can anticipate a small decrease in the parking problems so many have experienced this year. For those, however, who are happy to see their old residence fall, they can be on the lookout for demolition vehicles sometime in the next few weeks.

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