Foster-Walker Complex to shift from quarantine housing to residence hall


Sam Lebeck/The Daily Northwestern

Foster-Walker Complex currently serves as Northwestern’s Quarantine and Isolation housing. The dorm will open its doors to students in the 2021-22 academic year as COVID-19 cases drop on campus and vaccinations will be mandated.

Sam Lebeck, Reporter

Foster-Walker Complex will return to its original residential hall status in the fall.

Over the past year, the dorm, known as Plex, served as Northwestern’s on-campus COVID-19 housing. Students who received positive tests quarantined in the east wing, while those who only came in contact with the virus isolated in the west.

For underclassmen who plan to live in the dorm building next year, excitement about the upcoming academic year outweighs any anxiety associated with the quarantine dorms.

Weinberg freshman Clarissa Brill-Forman said the residence hall’s history influenced her housing decision process. She was apprehensive to commit to a dorm known for its isolation this year, and had to remind herself throughout the process that living near friends would be worth it.

“It was definitely in my mind (that) this is the COVID dorm,” Brill-Forman said. “That had a more significant impact close to the beginning of choosing housing, but once I went along and realized that was probably my best option, I accepted that the COVID situation was sort of the stereotype associated with it this year.”

Each year, students are randomly assigned priority numbers that dictate how early they are able to sign up for housing. Those with low numbers pick first, so students with high numbers must find alternatives if their ideal dorm fills up. Foster-Walker was not Brill-Forman’s first housing choice, but its numerous singles were appealing when other options were filled by students with lower priority numbers.

Weinberg freshman Min Kang said he initially wasn’t thrilled at the idea of living in Foster-Walker. When his group didn’t get a suite in Kemper Hall, however, it became their best option.

“When my group didn’t get our suites, registering for Plex on that first Wednesday seemed like a good idea to guarantee singles,” Kang said. “Getting the singles in Plex was better than waiting and getting a dorm in an area we didn’t want.”

Foster-Walker is known for its isolating layout, but Brill-Forman said signing up with a group of friends assured her that the single rooms would not be too secluded.

“The best decision was (to) all get singles on the same hallway and close to some other people that I’m good friends with,” Brill-Forman said. “Having singles that are near other friends who have singles will make it a lot easier to hang out next year.”

Medill freshman Valentina Doukeris registered with a group of friends as well, and said she trusts the University’s decision to reopen the building despite her own hesitations.

Doukeris said NU’s recent mandate of student vaccinations in the fall makes her feel more assured in her safety living on campus.

“A lot of the people who are registering for Plex, we’re concerned about not necessarily safety,” Doukeris said. “It just makes me feel superstitious or apprehensive. I don’t really want to be in quarantine housing, but I’m just going to trust the process and hope that everything’s clean.”

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