Penland opens with new look, feel

Penland Residence Hall reopened for the fall semester and features all-new renovations and amenities. Photo credit: Jessica Hubble

The dorm was one of many on Baylor’s list to be remodeled.

Penland Residence Hall’s re-design features many new and updated amenities for its residents and faculty. Its lobby has a sleek look and is filled with new furniture, games and televisions. A left turn after entering through the front door leads down a hall of brand new offices.

Despite new freshman only having experienced the new version of Penland, Edwardsville, Ill., freshman Kim Johnson had Penland’s old reputation in the back of her mind.

“I had heard nicknames like ‘Pnasty,’ ‘Pigland’ and the name of my floor, which was ‘the dirty third,’” Johnson said. “So I was a little skeptical going into it, but I also knew it was getting renovated.”

So far, the new residence hall has shaken its previous stigma and attracted visitors seeking to be part of the fun.

“A lot of people from other dorms come hang out in the lobby because we have a pool table and ping pong,” Johnson said. “[The other dorms] don’t have as much fun things. So it’s always poppin’ in the lobby.”

The myriad of games being played in the hall, such as Super Smash Bros tournaments, increase the dorm’s likability. Students are also enjoying the new rooms.

“The rooms are really nice,” said The Woodlands freshman Zach Koele. “All the cabinets, drawers and appliances are brand new. So it’s really nice to have that fresh start.”

The elegant features of the remodeled dorm have helped draw interest from incoming freshmen who were previously skeptical due to Penland’s reputation for negligent dorm conditions.

“Obviously Penland has a reputation, but I also had heard really good things,” Koele said. “All the guys I knew who lived here loved it, so that made me want to come to Penland.”

Brentwood, Tenn., junior Mattox Olson, the head community leader in Penland, has been at Baylor long enough to remember the sharp contrast between the new and old versions of the dorm.

“Penland’s image before was really juvenile, really masculine,” Olson said. “It still has freshmen who want to have a lot of fun now that they’re in college. But it’s definitely a lot less destructive than what it was before.”

Having been a CL in Martin last year, Olson said he is excited for the new opportunity because he will experience a co-ed residence hall for the first time.

“Martin was all males the year before, and it was a smaller residence hall. I was really excited by the concept of change,” Olson said. “[Penland] is a lot bigger so it feels a lot more intimidating than what Martin felt like.”

As for the new Penland’s legacy, Olson believes it will be a long process of finding its place on campus. He does, however, think that it should carry on some of its prior charm.

“It is defining itself for something new,” Olson said. “It’s trying to take the good things of old Penland and the good things of new Penland and merge them together.”

Curtis Odle, assistant director for Facilities and Operations, also believes it will take time for Penland to re-establish its role on campus.

“[Penland’s role on campus] is somewhat to be seen. That is kind of defined by the students each year,” Odle said. “But I think it’s going to be one of the primary sought after halls for that traditional first year experience.”

As for whether or not the administration has made any efforts to clean up Penland’s image, Odle said they simply treat it like any other residence hall on campus.

any of our buildings, we want the narrative related to that building to be
positive. Any of our efforts from the staff is to foster a positive image,” Odle said. “There’s not a branding effort to change what Penland has historically
been, but to make sure that it’s image and it’s narrative is positive.”