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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Rhode Island students give high marks
to URI's transformed Barlow Hall

KINGSTON, R.I. -- Sept. 26, 2000 -- Whether they're from Westerly, Cumberland, East Providence or Middletown, University of Rhode Island students are boasting about their new digs in the transformed Barlow Hall.

The 228-bed Barlow Hall, which was built in 1963, is winning kudos from freshmen and upper-classmen alike, following the completion of its $6.8 million renovation and expansion.

Middletown's Mark Amargo, 21, a senior and resident assistant (RA) who last year lived in Weldin Hall, Barlow's companion residence hall, said the difference is like night and day.

"We call it the Barlow Inn, where we have great rates and great nights," said the management science/management information systems major. "There is more community, and a lot more pride. Students are taking better care of the building."

Amargo who is also enrolled in URI's Army Reserve Officer Training Corps, (ROTC), said the whole point of residence hall life is to build community.

He said that is why Rhode Island voters must approve Referendum Question No. 4 in November, which would provide $22 million for URI to complete the rehabilitation of 14 residence halls as part of a 36.9 million higher education bond referendum.

"Rhode Islanders should invest in the quality of their students' environment," said Amargo, who will enter the Army as a second lieutenant when he graduates.

Marissa Cherenzia, 18, a freshman Centennial Scholar who graduated in the top 20 of her class from Chariho High School, said, "I love it."

As a visitor to other URI residence halls, the Hopkinton resident said Barlow is brighter and homier. "The rooms aren't that big, but they feel big because of the storage space, and the loftable beds," Cherenzia said.

All of the rooms have new oak furniture, including beds, desks and bookcases.

"All of this makes a big difference in college life," said Cherenzia, who added URI was her first choice. "People are taking good care of it. My parents love it. My Dad doesn't even think it's a dorm; he thinks it's too nice.

"I chose URI because it's a good school with so many opportunities. I love it here, and Barlow makes you feel even better about the school," Cherenzia said.

Eric Rueb, 19, of East Providence, was in Barlow last year before the project began. The sophomore journalism major who is also a Centennial Scholar, called the improved building unreal.

"It's so much better to live in and look at," Rueb said. "It makes you feel better about where you are living. It really does enhance learning. I feel like I have to study harder because I have a standard to live up to."

He said the students are showing great respect for the building. "We get upset if we put a black mark on the floor," Rueb said. "What's the point of living here if you are not going to take care of it?"

Like his fellow residents, Rueb will vote in favor of Question No. 4 in November. He said the rest of Rhode Island should as well. "When all this is done, it's going to be one great looking campus. Someday long after I graduate, I'll be able to tell people I was one of the first to live in this new building."

He said the exterior also promotes a sense of community. The common area outside the building, which is bounded by a wall "is a really nice place to hang out."

Lisa Betancur, 18, of Cumberland, is extremely happy that she made URI her first choice. The freshman animal science major said she frequently uses the new study lounges. "I really like them because if your roommate has company or wants to go to bed early, you always have a nice, quite place to study. And the windows in our rooms make it feel more like home."

She said it's absolutely necessary that Rhode Islanders approve the higher education bond issue in the fall.

"I am very excited to be here," Betancur said. "When you go to another dorm, you really appreciate what you have here."

For Betancur's roommate, Bridget Gagnon, 17, who finished 29th in her class of 225 at Westerly High School, URI was not her first choice. The freshman business major had Bryant College first on her list. But now she is glad to be at URI. Being in the renovated Barlow, "I feel like I am getting my money's worth. I have more options here, and my best friends are here at URI. "

Gagnon, who is already registered to vote, won't miss out on her chance to support the bond issue. She said it's important for Rhode Islanders to know how much it means to students to be in a safe, clean learning environment. "I am going to try to become an R.A. next year, so I can stay here."

As Gagnon spoke, heavy equipment was working around the site for Weldin, the next residence hall slated for improvement and expansion.

Eric Isenberg, 18, a freshman Centennial Scholar from West Warwick, said the new building is awesome. "Two years ago, I was here for the Scholar-Athlete Games as an artist, and we stayed in Barlow. It was the worst dorm on campus. A lot of the kids said the dorms were the reason why they were turned off to URI."

Now that he is here, being in Barlow is like icing on the cake. "I've wanted to come here for two years, because URI and the state have so much to offer." He drove around Narragansett one day, and asked himself why he would want to leave.

Isenberg said each Barlow floor is like a mini-hotel. "This is nicer than my room at home," he said. "I am now more willing to stay here on weekends."

Isenberg also said the safety improvements like the new sprinkler and fire alarm systems, give him great peace of mind. "My parents are very impressed."

He said he is going to vote for the bond issue so that other residence halls can also be upgraded. "If freshmen have a nice experience, it sets up a great four year years," he said. "We are the future of this state and this country."

For Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116


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