The K. That is not a nickname. Chapman University’s newest 400-bed, two-tone residential hall just across from Dodge College of Film and Media Arts is the shiniest of all the university’s dorms, built around an impressive courtyard used by students for study and social gatherings. The architecture reflects the location’s historic background; it was once one of the major fruit packing houses in the county a century ago.
“It feels weird being a college student and living in such a great place,” said sophomore Megan Deats, an integrated educational studies major.
As much as Chapman is excited about its K, it is not without its problems for students. It happens to be next to the infamous county-wide train tracks
“Sometimes my room shakes when the train comes by, which makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep,” said sophomore business major Sami Colleran.
Colleran is not the only student who is bothered by the sounds of the trains. Sophomore psychology major Valerie Lee also has problems with other noises.
“I hear the train a lot during the day and night. I also hear my neighbors sometimes too. Our air conditioning makes loud noises every so often as well,” Lee said.
There are access problems too, for some students.
You can get out through plenty of doors, but you can only enter through the main lobby. It frustrates students parking down the street on the other side.
“That makes it a super long walk with groceries when I live on the opposite side of the entrance,” Deats said.
But the problems do not stop there. Sophomore business major Kayla Cho was unable to use her stove and garbage disposal for over a week. There was also a temporary water leak that caused students to evacuate two rooms at the start of the semester.
But overall, the positives seem to outnumber the downsides.
Colleran, despite her few complaints, calls the K the best place to live.
Why the K?
University President Daniele Struppa said $10 million was donated by an anonymous European donor to help complete the construction of the living facility, which at first was called the Villa Park Orchard Residential Village. The K name is to pay homage to the anonymous donor, he explained at his February State of the University Address.
“Just like ‘The W’ hotel,” Struppa said, referring to the Hollywood Boulevard Hotel in Los Angeles.
This is the university’s second major housing project since Chapman Grand, with an overall cost of $47.4 million. The residence hall is set northwest of Cypress Street and Palm Avenue. The K residence welcomes a nine to twelve month lease for second-year housing students, ranging from about $12,700 to $14,500 each academic year.
Residence Life and First Year Experience Director Dave Sundby explained that The K was designed and built with the student experience in mind. The reasoning behind opening a second housing hall shortly after Chapman Grand is due to the increase of student enrollment.
In 2015, the City of Orange approved the university’s increase of maximum student enrollment from 8,700 to 11,650, and in 2018 Struppa established the goal of housing a minimum of 50% of the student population within five years.
However, that goal does not come without some hiccups.
“As with any new residential construction and the start of every academic year, there are always minor issues once a building is fully occupied,” Sundby said. “We did have some minor water issues — flooding is too strong of a term — and our contractor resolved these issues quickly.”
According to Sundby, throughout the year, students’ use or misuse of residential facilities is by far the most common cause of maintenance needs that are addressed by Facilities Management. The case with the recent water issues at The K was related to construction.
Last year, Chapman Grand was the newest housing addition to Chapman. Now it is The K Residence. The difference between the two is that Chapman Grand is a luxury apartment complex. According to Sundby, Chapman Grand has 399 apartments while The K has 110. The Grand houses up to 900 students while The K houses 400. Sundby said that Grand is approximately 3.5 miles from campus, while The K is right in the heart of west campus. Both buildings house students who are sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
As Chapman continues to grow, the university seeks to further its plans with housing developments to come in the near future, but Sunby does not know of any exact plans or timelines.
While building new housing options sounds like a great idea to the university, Lee and many other students hope that Chapman can first fix their existing problems at The K before they look to new housing developments.