Founded in the year 1804, Ohio University (OU) is the oldest university in the state of Ohio and is home to some of the oldest educational buildings and residence halls in the region.
The institution’s Cutler Hall remains “the oldest building erected for higher education west of the Alleghenies and north of the Ohio River.”
With this esteemed level of history comes remarkable tradition and admiration – especially for those who spent such a formative portion of their lives living in these buildings.
The university recently was struck with controversy as it announced the demolition of Scott Quadrangle. The residence hall and university police station, established in 1937, was home to thousands of first-year students in its period of use, and in the year 2021, Ohio University’s Board of Trustees voted to demolish the building.
This led to an outcry for the adored hall from students and alumni. However, it wasn’t until the demolition process started that social media users and activists began to also question how the waste produced is being disposed.
On July 8, 2022, a photograph taken within the courtyard of the hall began circulating on the internet. The photograph displays a pile of wooden furniture often found in a university housing building such as drawers, beds and desks.
This photo became a point of contention amongst students and alumni of the university as they tried their best to grasp why the furniture was discarded in that manner and brainstorm other potential options for what could have been done with the furniture.
Many comments on posts with this photo exclaimed the furniture could have remained in use while some pointed to donation and other waste diversion efforts.
Jon Cozad, OU’s executive director of Design and Construction, highlighted the use of Habitat for Humanity ReStores in the demolition process stating that “ReStores was able to salvage furniture, fixtures and other building supplies and materials; taking away 20 truckloads and 53,500 pounds of materials for use by the community in future projects.”
Habitat for Humanity Restores is a chain of homegood thrift stores operated in coordination with local Habitat for Humanity organizations. Each location sells used furniture and other home goods as a means of giving it a second life. The Athens, Ohio location closest to Ohio University opened in July 2011.
As it goes for the rubble of the building, Cozad says there are plans to recover portions of the demolished building as a means of respecting the history of the building.
“The university is also salvaging the iconic header stones bearing names that hang over each of the doors to the residence halls and saving them for a park feature that will go on the property once demolition is complete,” the director stated.
Additionally, Cozad confirmed Ohio University Campus Recycling was able to salvage or recycle an additional 14,294 pounds of material, for a total material diversion of nearly 68,000 pounds.