The University of Nevada, Reno's Nye Hall, with damage from the July explosion pictured.
Michala Matovina / The Nevada Sagebrush
Nye Hall pictured with some windows boarded up. The hall recieved significant damaged by a boiler explosion on the afternoon of July 5, 2019.

University of Nevada, Reno students can expect new dining options, the reopening of Nye Hall and other updates on campus in 2020 and 2021, according to members of Residential Life and Dining. 

According Director of Residential Life Jerome Maese, Nye Hall is expected to house 500 incoming students in August 2020. The hall’s reopening comes a year after a boiler explosion significantly damaged the Downunder Cafe, Argenta Hall and Nye Hall on the afternoon of July 5, 2019.

Besides returning Nye Hall to its original structure, Maese said there would be improvements to the residential hall, including new study and social furniture, new paint and “a gender inclusive, very accessible guest bathroom.” 

Argenta Hall, which sustained more severe damage than Nye, is set to be opened in the fall of 2021 and will include a new dining facility. 

“We’re going to work with some new concepts… to compliment our student populations,” said Maese. 

One of those concepts could include kosher friendly options, according to Heidi Rich, the marketing director of Nevada Dining. 

The Den, which serves as the university’s current buffet style dining facility and seats 400, opened on Wednesday, Dec. 11. According to Rich, the Den “is functioning better than we intended it to.” She said its central location makes it more accessible to all of the campus community, including students, staff and faculty. 

Despite its success, the Den will close once Argenta and its new dining facility reopen.

After the Downunder Cafe was damaged in the explosion, Nevada Dining created Howler Village, a temporary dining facility. Additionally, Nevada Dining transformed the Overlook into a cafeteria-style facility where residents could use their meal swipes.

Since the Den opened, Nevada Dining has transferred the Overlook back into a food-court style facility where students, faculty and staff can purchase food from different vendors. As of Spring 2020, the Overlook will house new options such as Poke Bar, Grill 775 and Wolf Pack Pizza. Forklift, which was originally housed in the Fitzgerald Students Services Building, will make its return in the Overlook. 

Wolf Pack Tower, the university’s solution to replace the lost space for incoming students after the July 5 explosion, will close before the start of the fall 2020 semester. It will return to Circus Circus Reno, according to Maese. 

The overspill of students that don’t fit in Nye will be housed in “other housing options off campus,” according to Maese.

Nye Hall isn’t the only facility opening. 

Panera Bread and Habit Burger, both set to open in fall 2019, ran into delays because of “construction issues,” according to Rich. 

“You’re building within the infrastructure of an existing building and there are things that weren’t seen initially,” Rich said.

Habit Burger is expected to open at the end of February. Panera Bread is set to open in late March. 

Besides reopening Nye Hall, Maese said an Indigenous Peoples wing is set to open in the Nevada Living Learning Community, a residence hall aimed at promoting academic living environments. This would be the newest addition to a set of special residence hall wings added to the Nevada Living Learning Community residence hall. Added in the fall of 2019, the first of these wings included a Latinx wing and Gender, Sexuality and Identity wing. 

In the fall 2019 semester, Residential Life came under fire after students living in the Gender, Sexuality and Identity wing reported being harrassed by NCAA athletes living on the same floor in the adjacent wing. Three Title IX suits were filed by GSI students after the harassment continued with little to no staff intervention.

Maese said that he was taking steps to prevent further harassment in the GSI and other wings.

“I’ve met with the Residential Hall Association leaders. We’re having more conversations about other programs that we can do for this group. We’re talking about, programmatically, in the first couple weeks, how we set up expectations, how we have community meetings and what programs we’re going to have,” said Maese. 

Maese said that a strategic plan for providing services in residential life, housing, and food service for all members of the campus community would be in the works once a new executive director of Residential Life, Housing & Food Services is hired.

“I believe we’re coming back even stronger from the explosion. I believe we have incredible students, incredible staff… I thought we were strong program before but I think that this has tested us and made us stronger,” said Maese. 

Taylor Avery can be reached at oali@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @travery98.