Think back to your move-in experience at the University of South Carolina. The enthusiasm. The excitement. The nervousness. THE HEAT.
Little of that has changed for the more than 7,300 students who joined the Gamecock family as freshmen in August, the largest class ever welcomed to the university.
One big difference today? Nobody is schlepping a footlocker and giant stereo speakers up three flights of stairs into a dorm room without air conditioning.
That clearly wasn’t the case for the students moving into residence halls in the fall — especially at USC’s newly opened Campus Village. The largest construction project in the university’s 222-year history, the four new buildings next to Bates House and Bates West on the south end of campus are now home to 1,800 students — and feature a slew of amenities.
The residential complex boasts living and learning communities, classrooms, green space with seating areas, a general store and plenty of food options — including a 650-seat dining hall called The Pavilion, where students can enjoy all-you-can-eat meals that include customizable pizza, Asian cuisine, plus vegan and allergen-free options. There is a Starbucks on the first floor of one Campus Village building, and a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop is on the way.
The heat of Columbia in August never changes, but the move-in experience for the newest Gamecocks was unlike any that came before. To get a sense of what all has changed — and what hasn’t — Carolinian spoke with several first-year students during Move-In at Campus Village, then asked their alumni parents to compare and contrast experiences. We also checked back in midway through the fall semester to see how the newest residents were settling in.
Parents: Chip Felkel, ’82, and Shonna Felkel
There was no question Addy Felkel would be a Gamecock. “I’m the 32nd person in our family to come here, so it’s a long line. I don’t think I can remember a Felkel family wedding where Cocky didn’t show up,” said Felkel, a freshman from Greenville.
A visual communications major, by move-in day she had already secured — and started — an internship with the creative media team in USC’s athletics department. And she was excited to be among the first residents at the university’s latest housing complex.
“It’s new, and I can kind of break it in with my roommates,” she said. “And for me, it’s closer to Williams-Brice. I’ll be driving back and forth to work there every day, so that helps me out a little bit.”
But Addy’s freshman residence hall experience is far different from her dad Chip’s. When he was a freshman, the 1982 political science graduate lived in Douglas, one of the six Honeycomb towers, the last of which were demolished in 2007. Chip’s father, Dal Felkel, attended USC on the G.I. Bill and graduated in 1950. Dal, who was married when he went back to school, lived in a house off campus.
“It’s a whole different ballgame,” said Chip. “Kids now, their expectations are maybe a little higher than ours were in 1982. I was just excited to be in college. You know, freedom from home. I grew up in Kingstree and felt like I was moving to the big city.”
Addy’s new home also offers her some bragging rights over her brother, Ethan, a USC alumnus and now law student who lived in the old Cliff Apartments as a freshman.
“It’s special for me because they tore down the place where my brother lived to build this,” said Addy. “So I get to keep that a little bit over my brother’s head. Every little sister will take advantage of that.”
As she loaded her belongings onto the building’s elevator — joking that half of her wardrobe already consisted of Gamecock attire — she asked her father what he thought of her new on-campus address. “I think it’s great,” he said. “I know you’re ready. You’re home.”
Parents: Latoya Pyles, ’99, and Jim Pyles, ’99
Brother: Jimiere Pyles
Freshman accounting major Jayden Pyles (second from left) scored a fourth-floor corner room looking southwest toward Williams-Brice Stadium. He says he loves living at the university’s newest residential community.
“My brother Jimiere came here, and he was in Bates, so I thought all dorms were like that,” Jayden said, referring to the 54-year-old residence hall just to the north. “I really like the suite style, especially since each suite has its own bathroom and shower. Instead of having to wait for five or six people to get a shower, I don’t wait at all.”
For his USC alumni parents, Jayden’s campus digs are a far cry from their own freshman dorms. The Simpsonville native’s parents lived in the now-demolished Honeycombs as freshmen — mom, Latoya, moved into Baker in 1995; dad, Jim, lived in Snowden his freshman year. Latoya moved to Sims on the women’s quad sophomore year, and Jim moved to Capstone.
They remember their move-in experiences being vastly different. “I don’t remember having the help or the organization we had this year,” she said. “We pulled up, got our own stuff out and carried it up by ourselves.”
The living spaces were also different. “We had hall baths,” said Latoya. “We had to walk down the hall with our shower clothes on, and you didn’t forget your shower shoes. The amount of privacy is so different. But I think not having that privacy allowed us to meet more people on the hall. I felt like I knew everyone on the floor.”
Knowing his parents are alumni is part of the reason USC was at the top of Jayden’s list of colleges.
“I always wanted to come to Carolina,” he says. “This is a great school, the business school is a top school, and I knew I was going to major in a business field. And then knowing both my parents met here — this was my top choice, 100 percent.”
Parents: Bryan Horton and Kristy Horton, ’04
Kristy Horton moved her son Cale into Campus Village, just across the way from Bates House, the dorm she moved into as a freshman in 1996. The onetime education major couldn’t help but notice the contrast.
“It’s amazing. It’s state-of-the-art. Everything you could possibly need is there,” she said after moving her son into his new home. “I felt like we were at the Taj Mahal. It was so nice it blew my mind. The quality and the amenities. I was just amazed.”
Cale, who is majoring in mechanical engineering, likes the location near his classes. He has also enjoyed other exciting aspects of student life. By early October, the soccer fan had already attended several games at Stone Stadium, across the street from Campus Village.
“I love where I’m living,” Cale said. “It’s perfect being beside the Swearingen building. And we can always say we’re the first ones to live here. We got lucky.”
But even though Kristy’s dorm had hall bathrooms and fewer amenities, the veteran elementary school math teacher from Lancaster remembers her time in Bates fondly. “I was excited,” she said. “I knew it wasn’t the best, but I was excited to be there.”
Parents: Jill Stauffer, ’96, and Mike Stauffer, ’90
Roommate: Jack Oliver
Zach Stauffer (foreground) and his roommate, Jack Oliver, applied to the Rhodos Fellows living and learning community located in Campus Village as a way to guarantee they could live in the new complex.
He hasn’t been disappointed.
“I like I’m living at one of the top three places on campus,” said Zach, an exercise science major from Chapin. “The building is brand-new, so nothing has been used. And, honestly, the location isn’t bad. I kind of enjoy walking to my classes.”
His mother, Jill, said the technology in the residence halls is much more advanced than when she arrived on campus. “They have a whole dining hall on the bottom floor,” she said of her son’s Campus Village building. “It’s pretty cool all the extras they have now. But I was kind of spoiled and conveniently located, so I can’t complain.”
Jill, who majored in elementary education, lived in Thornwell behind the Horseshoe her freshman year. Later, she moved to Harper, right on the Horseshoe.
“I know my son is a little further away, but I think he’s getting used to that. And I think they’re enjoying The Pavilion on the bottom floor for sure,” she said. “At Campus Village, it’s more like its own little community. He’s gotten to know friends from almost all the buildings and they can walk to class together and meet up and do other stuff. I think that’s pretty cool. Thornwell was pretty quiet.”