New residence halls to add needed space by fall 2013

Tamora Rosenbaum

SDSU’s campus is continually evolving. By the time students have earned a degree at SDSU, they are leaving a campus that looks much different than when they first arrived. This will be no different for incoming freshmen.

In order to keep up with continually growing enrollment numbers, SDSU released a Master Plan in 2008 so that it could expand along with its student body. The main objectives of this plan are to increase overall retention rates and graduate student enrollment. In order to do this, SDSU is creating two distinct student neighborhoods — one for freshmen and sophomores on the southeast side of campus and one for upper-level students on the northeast side.

The Master Plan is available on SDSU’s website. Phase One was completed in 2010 with the opening of the Jackrabbit Village residence hall complex and the addition of both Einstein Bros. Bagels and Weary Wil’s Sports Grill to The Union.

Construction on Phase Two is currently underway and is projected to be complete by fall of 2013. The end result of this phase of construction will include four new residence halls and a dining expansion for The Student Union. Three of the new halls will be built on the North, South and West sides of Pierson Hall, while the fourth will be built behind Brown Hall.

Funds for this construction project, which is expected to cost around $45.7 million, were made available by the consolidation of bonds issued for earlier construction projects. The new project will also be paid for by issuing bonds, which will be paid off by the rents charged to students occupying the new halls.

After the construction is complete, the hope is that students will be able to enter SDSU as freshmen and exit with a master’s degree without ever having to live off campus.

Research conducted for the Master Plan showed that retention rates for students living in the southeast corner of campus were significantly higher than that of students living elsewhere on campus. The research showed that this was due to a number of factors, including proximity to academic resources like the library and access to community resources like The Union and The Wellness Center.

Doug Wermedal, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, said homogenous communities also increase retention and graduation rates, according to current retention literature.

“If you live within a community that shares some characteristic with you, it helps you graduate,” he said. According to Wermedal, these communities can be lifestyle-based like the healthy lifestyles community in Brown, academic-based like the Honors community currently housed in Mathews, or based on students’ year in school.

Pierson Hall will be the building most heavily impacted by the construction of the new residence halls. Sophomores will be concentrated in this building because, as Wermedal said, “they are already familiar with campus resources and are therefore better able to deal with the inconveniences of the construction.”

The construction will mostly affect the ease of getting in and out of the building. Those students who elect to live in Pierson will be given incentives such as free parking, a discounted meal plan, and 35 free meals per semester at Larson Commons.

The effects of the construction extend beyond Pierson, however. Navigating to classes is slightly more complicated than it was before construction began, but use of the footpaths provided around the construction sites will ensure pedestrian safety. A map of these footpaths can be found on SDSU’s website under the Student Life tab.

Once construction of the new residence halls is finished, SDSU will have four new residence halls containing an additional 800 beds and three new options for dining in The Union. The Union expansion is slated to add around 20,000 square feet to the building and 300 additional seats to dining services at an expected cost of about $8.3 million.

The three national restaurants coming to SDSU are Chick-fil-A, Panda Express and Extreme Pita. They will be located on the main level of The Union after the expansion is complete.

Anthony Sutton, former vice president of the Students’ Association, said the university used results from a student survey to make the selection.

“I’m excited that we’re going to have a blend of national options and local options,” he said.

While the new construction is focused on the southeast side of campus, the northeast side will also experience several changes before fall 2013. Hansen Hall will be an exception to the concentration of freshmen and sophomore students in the southeast neighborhood. The hall is slated to be converted from a traditional freshman/sophomore residency to one that only houses academically-focused sophomores. The lobby of Hansen will also be enlarged and changed into a dining service facility to replace Medary Commons, which will no longer be used as a food service location.