A place to call their own

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

In less than two months the west side of Southeast Missouri State University's campus will be transformed from a hardhat-filled, steeltoed-boot-dominated construction site, into a home-away-from-home for nearly 300 backpack-toting, sneaker-wearing students.

The 291-bed residence hall, which broke ground last summer, is expected to be completed by Aug. 3, when resident advisers start arriving.

John Haverstick, director for the new residence hall, said he is extremely excited about having the chance to be a part of the new dormitory.

"It's going to be a challenge," he said. "It will be the first residence hall built since Towers."

To meet the needs of a growing student population, the Board of Regents approved the contract for a consulting firm to take a look at the housing situation in June 2000.

From this consultation the recommendation was made for a 300-resident dorm, which moved forward in May 2001 when the board hired a construction company. The new residence hall, with an estimated price tag of $13.4 million, was the first built on campus since the construction of Towers residence hall complex nearly 40 years ago.

With the addition of the new residence hall, every returning student wanting to live on campus for the 2002-2003 school year was able to sign up for housing in April, said Jim Settle, director of residential life at the university.

An important aspect of the new dorm will be its proximity to Myers and Dearmont halls. This will help create a residential community such as the communities that exist in the Towers complex and fraternity and sorority housing on the other side of campus, Settle said.

"More than putting up a new residence hall, we're creating a new community on campus," he said.

Along with helping to bring students together, Settle said the new dorm also will maintain the architectural feel of the campus. The new dorm's exterior was designed to specifically blend with buildings such as Myers Hall and the University Center.

"We worked very hard to make sure it fits in with the rest of the university's style," he said.

The addition of a new hall naturally raises questions about dining and parking.

Casa Ortega will be added to the five existing food choices to help give the students more dining options, Settle said.

As for parking, Settle said students living in the new dorm will be able to park in the existing lot across from the dorm on Henderson, as well as the lot located behind Houck Field House. Additional parking is available on the street as well, he said. No new parking lots were created specifically for the new residence hall.

The five-floor structure will feature suite-style rooms -- two rooms connected by a bathroom. The floors will be divided into male and female wings. The main floor will have a laundry room, game room, customer service desk and a main lounge with a full kitchen.

The annual room-and-board rate for the new hall will be $4,290. This rate will make the new dorm the highest priced dorm on campus by more than $400.

Rooms for the new dorm will be 18 percent larger than those in Towers North and West, formerly the most expensive dorms, Settle said.

The adjoining laundry room and game room, which features a big-screen TV, pool table and a foosball table, will likely be a popular hangout for students, Haverstick said.

"With the game room and laundry, students will be able to do their laundry and relax at the same time," he said.

The top four floors will also contain a main lounge, with television, kitchenette and Internet access and a smaller lounge for meetings. Along with the two main lounges the top four floors will also have a study room, a feature not found in any other dorm. The study room will have Internet access, tables and chairs for studying and a large dry erase board for practicing presentations.

Haverstick said he thinks the students will especially enjoy the main lounges, which are enclosed by a large glass wall with a view of Broadway.

Furniture for the new dorm rooms and lounges was chosen by Southeast students. More than 400 students tried out different styles of couches and chairs during a demonstration setup in Towers last fall.

"Students really drove this project," Settle said. "Students were involved in every process of development."

Openings for the dorm were made available to returning students first, with 90 percent of the new dorm being filled with returning and transfer students. The additional space in the dorm will be filled by first-year students.

"We wanted the new hall to be a privilege for our returning students to live there," Settle said.

In addition to the new residence hall construction, several other projects are near completion.

An addition to the University Center dining area on the south side of the building, which will provide seating for more than 230 people, is currently under construction and will be completed by the fall semester in order to meet the higher dining demand, Settle said.

The construction on Henderson Street, which is being done to help with stormwater drainage, should be completed well before students start coming back, he said.

Settle expects the construction to be done in about 20 days, depending on cooperation from the weather.

jjoffray@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 226

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