The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Opinion

July 15, 2012

Demise of UA dorm marks end of an era

From the Tuscaloosa News:

With the thunder of charges set off in quick succession, Rose Towers sagged in the middle and then collapsed in an enormous pile of dust. The pieces that remained were surprisingly small.

There was no argument about the fate of a building that was little more than a functional box for students to live in. No preservationists threatened to chain themselves to the door. Rose Towers had served its purpose, and it was time for another building to take its place.

It is interesting that one of the emblems of growth and progress from another era had to be removed to make room for the progress of another era. Rose Towers, indeed, was a symbol of rapid growth in higher education during the 1960s.

Prior to that era, campus administrators had sought to keep as much of the student body on campus as possible. Much of the off-campus housing was located in old university district houses cut up into apartments or serving as boarding houses. There were also “townies” and married students living off campus.

But when ex-soldiers attending college on the GI Bill and then the baby boom generation began to hit campus, housing ran short. As in urban downtowns, college administrators believed the only way to get more out of their limited campus footprint was to go up. The result was dorms and apartments like Rose Towers and Tutwiler Hall, the women’s residence hall on the opposite side of campus.

The high-rises turned out not to be the wave of the future, at least not here. Even buildings 12 and 13 stories high could not contain the growth that came to the University of Alabama. Verging on an eyesore, Rose Towers’ time had come and gone. The era that spawned it has passed and so has its useful life.

But 43 years after Rose Towers first opened, the growth continues.

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