Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Students create time capsule to commemorate Whitis residence hall before demolition

Allie Castaneda
From left, Adriana Abril, Ivan Djordjevic, Jenna Leslie, and Kavish Dewani smile near the Whitis Court Time Capsule after placing a polaroid photo in the time capsule on Apr. 18, 2024.

Polaroids, trinkets and a ripped-out diary entry with a doodle of a 50-foot oak tree canopied over a residence hall filled a small metal time capsule on Thursday as residents gave a formal goodbye to Whitis Court, a residence hall set to be demolished in June. 

The University of Texas System Board of Regents authorized the demolition of Whitis Court earlier this semester to build a new residence hall by 2027, which plans to house 1,000 people — about 800 more than the space currently holds. The Whitis Court Sunset Soiree commemorated Whitis Court with a time capsule, a slideshow projected on an inflatable screen, dinner and mocktails during sunset hour in the hall’s courtyard. 

Three signs on the courtyard displayed the residence hall’s history. Built in the 1950s, Whitis Court originally consisted of three buildings. It was one of the only halls that housed Black women, according to the Division of Campus and Community Engagement’s website. By the 1960s, the hall, then known as the Women’s Co-op, expanded to six buildings.

In the 1980s, April Lam moved into the Co-op as an international student from China. Lam said the residents maintained the building themselves and took turns cooking family recipes and cleaning, which she said her culture had not fully taught her. She said sharing this experience taught her life and social skills and eased her transition to American culture.

“I (was) an international student and I learned the day-to-day living habits of these girls,” Lam said. “If it weren’t for those two years, I wouldn’t have learned all these things.” 

The signs in the courtyard said the University turned the buildings into co-ed residence halls in the 1990s and used them to house the new living-learning communities, a program grouping students in residences with people of similar interests. 

Psychology senior Adriana Abril said she moved to Austin from Spain and joined the Global Living Learning Community, one of the many communities housed in Whitis, this year. She said students are just a part of the mass in other residence halls, but in Whitis, people notice when their neighbors come home sick or unwell. 

“(Whitis is) special because you bump into someone in the bathroom and you ask them how they are,” Abril said. “That’s something that would not happen in another residence hall.” 

International relations senior Pablo Sanchez said the domestic atmosphere of the building allowed him to create memories in every corner of the building with Abril and other neighbors, like cooking bad mac and cheese in the kitchen, watching movies squeezed on the living room couch and throwing up said mac and cheese. 

Abril and Sanchez dropped a picture of their adventures in Whitis into the time capsule during the event. As a residential assistant took Polaroid pictures of attendees, the time capsule was filled with more photos to commemorate the last group of residents to live in the roughly 70-year-old building.  

“It’s beautiful,” Sanchez said. “We are creating a community — a strong community — that also takes care of each other.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to correct the year the new residence hall will be built. The Texan regrets this error.

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