Jana L. Haas
Family, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, hunting, football games, band concerts, and other celebrations are just some of the reasons SDSU students head home for the weekends, leaving parking lots, dorm rooms and campus buildings vacant.
The university is often labeled a “suitcase college” because of this very thing.
A suitcase college is often described as a college where a large portion of the student body heads home or out of town for most weekends of the academic year. This label is not new to SDSU.
Dean of Student Affairs Doug Wermedal noticed many students left campus when he was a resident assistant in 1983. The issue figured prominently into the kinds of programming he was asked to do for his floor. He does, however, think that progress has been made over time.
“The Performing Arts Center and the Multi-Plex did not exist when I was an undergrad, and it’s clear that they will have a programming impact on the events planned for students,” Wermedal said.
According to Wermedal, university organizations like the University Program Council, the Greek Council, the Residence Hall Association, professionals within the Department of Student Union and Activities, and the Residential Life staff are constantly programming, providing events, and doing socials to give students entertainment options.
“We did a study [a few years ago] to see just how much was out there in terms of programming. [We] discovered that on any weekend (Thursday-Sunday) during the academic year, there was an average of seven events each weekend for students to pick from.
“We’re working hard on retention at SDSU to be sure. Enticing students to stay here for weekends is part of deepening that overall connection between students and SDSU, but SDSU should not, and does not, compete with those powerful family connections that I think are the main reasons why many students go home on the weekends,” Wermedal said.
Reactions and concerns are varied throughout campus.
“The key thing to remember is that students are busy people. They occasionally need to not be in Brookings to rest and recharge to face the challenges of university life,” Wermedal said.
“There is always something to do on campus or in Brookings on the weekend,” said Cody Christensen, a sophomore aviation major from Beresford, who rarely leaves town on the weekends.
Jackie Martens, a sophomore pre-chiropractic major, tries to head home at least every other or every third weekend. She goes home to see her boyfriend, family, and friends.
Martens said she would stay more often if there were more things to do and suggested scheduling more dances on the weekends.
The closing of the campus commons on three-day weekends poses a problem for some students living in the dorms.
Jack’s Place in the University Student Union is the only food service that is open on the longer weekends. The Market and Java City are not open any Saturday or Sunday, while the other commons reduce their hours for the weekends.
Lisa Marotz, former student and current operations manager for the dining service, said she is trying to get more events started.
Marotz said she has been working with university organizations to start programming, “but it never materializes because of the fear that people won’t come if the event is scheduled on a weekend.”
In joint-coordination with the athletic department last fall, Marotz tried to get people to stay on campus when it was nice out. She scheduled talegate parties before every home football game to build school spirit, and students could use their meal plan dollars to purchase the meal.
Marotz said that never more than 50 students attended.
“I am open to anyone that has any ideas. I am interested in anyone that would like to get involved,” she said.
#1.887743:3643187296.jpg:leaving.jpg:Kristen Osterberg, a sophomore sociology and political science major, leaves SDSU and heads to Omaha for a weekend of shopping on Friday afternoon.: