Recession alters plan for Swing Space

After years of planning, the short-term future of Swing Space is now thrust back into uncertainty.

The Law School was originally supposed to take over Swing Space — the residential hall now housing undergraduates in Morse College during the college’s renovation ­— in 2012. But while the Law School will indeed eventually occupy the entire building, Law School Dean Robert Post LAW ’77 has decided that, because of budgetary constraints, the Law School will instead take over only a portion of the building in 2012, University President Richard Levin said. Levin added that it is still unclear how the University will use the remaining space.

“Dean Post looked at his budget and recognized that starting with only one part of the building would be much more favorable to his budget,” Levin said.

The Law School decided to take over only part of the building because of the recession and the slowdown in construction on campus, Law School spokeswoman Jan Conroy said. In particular, she said, the Law School was concerned about the cost of minor renovations and basic maintenance.

Conroy said the Law School was originally promised Swing Space with the understanding that it would take over the building around 2012, which was when the University expected to have finished renovations of the residential colleges.

“However, with the potential slowdown in renovations and construction on campus caused by economic conditions, and [in] the plan to build two new residential colleges, it looked likely that that move-in date would be pushed back for several years,” Conroy said.

When the Law School realized this, Conroy said, administrators asked for and received a promise that the school would be able to use at least some of the space in 2012.

A committee composed of Law School faculty and administrators has been formed to decide what the Law School’s portion of Swing Space will be used for come 2012, Conroy said. She said the committee will focus on eventually housing law students in the building.

Associate Dean Mike Thompson said alumni have said dormitory life was important to them during their time at the Law School, in terms of both their educational experience and the sense of community. The Law School has not offered on-campus housing to its students since the last dormitories in the Sterling Law Buildings were converted to office space in 2007.

“While we have added after-hours events and experiences at the Law School in an attempt to enhance the student life experience,” Thompson said, “we mourn the loss of our dormitory space.”

Though Levin said he does not know what the rest of Swing Space will be used for, he suggested that the space might house either graduate students or undergraduates while the new residential colleges are being built. Still, he said this is a provisional plan.

“If Yale Law School doesn’t need the whole thing, we may as well use half for residential space,” Levin said. “But it’s all very tentative. I don’t know when that’s going to happen.”

Indeed, the University has not yet formed a committee to make this decision, but Levin said that given the need for office space at Yale, it is unlikely that the building will sit idle.

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