Just in time for the warmer weather, residents at Ehringhaus Residence Hall have been treated to a new dedicated hammock area.
The area, located in front of the residence hall, is a group of six wooden poles with hooks for attaching hammocks. With room for 16 hammocks, students have plenty of space to relax with their friends and enjoy the spring weather.
The hammock area is the result of a collaboration between first-year student Michael Alberse and Carolina Housing. Alberse had success with a similar project in high school, so when he was transitioning to college he sought to replicate the idea on campus.
“I went to Cary Academy and essentially we were using hammocks on campus on trees, and administrators told people we couldn’t hammock on trees because it was wearing off the bark,” he said. “Then we couldn’t hammock on poles between buildings because it was over concrete. So basically there was nowhere we could use hammocks. It’s the classic origin story.”
Seeking a solution, Alberse talked to his principal and applied for a PTA grant. From there, he did research on the optimal layout and found volunteers to help him build it at Cary Academy. The project became his year’s senior class gift and was a resounding success, inspiring him to bring the idea with him to Chapel Hill.
“I approached the Building and Grounds Committee over the summer,” Alberse said. “I sent out a bunch of emails, and they referred me to Housing.”
Alberse was referred to Rick Bradley, associate director of Carolina Housing. As part of Carolina Housing’s strategic plan, Bradley had been looking into potential improvements for the outside spaces around the resident halls over the last three years.
“We had had this notion of how we might be able to provide some hammock spaces around the campus,” Bradley said. “Coincidentally, at the same time over the summer we had gotten an email from Michael, who said he would love to work with us.”
Bradley and Alberse met over the summer to refine Alberse’s plan and prepare a presentation for the Chancellor’s Building and Grounds Committee. They received approval for a pilot phase of the project starting with three locations: Ehringhaus, Hinton James and Craige Residence Halls.
Housing’s goal for the project is twofold, Bradley said. First, to provide something fun and connect with students. This was accomplished not only by building the hammock area but also through encouraging the residence halls to buy hammocks students can check out as enhancements. Second, Housing wanted to reduce the harm done to trees around campus by the straps of hammocks.
Bradley credited Alberse with being the driving force behind the project and said Housing would be open to working with other students.
“I’ve done lots of projects within Housing as a part of our strategic plan for years, and I think the thing that has been most enjoyable about this has been connecting to one student’s passion,” Bradley said. “We would like to encourage that when students have ideas like Michael’s we would love to hear them.”
Bradley is not the only person who appreciates the hammocks. Ehringhaus resident Luke Morin takes advantage of the layout of the hammock area to enjoy the warmer weather and chat with his friends.
“It’s really nice to get outside, especially when there is really nice weather,” Morin said. “It’s great too because of the triangle formation you can talk to new people you haven’t met in your residence halls.”
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