Housing to focus on retention

Tamora Rosenbaum

After all the construction of the new residence halls is complete, students will be able to enter SDSU as freshmen and exit with a master’s degree without ever having to live off campus. The next step in achieving this plan is concentrating sophomores into Pierson, Meadows South and Caldwell halls.

There are many reasons for the shift, but they all center on better serving student’s needs. Student Affairs is aiming to improve graduation rates by removing the necessity of housing students in day rooms and creating living-learning communities tailored to the needs of specific student groups.

Doug Wermedal, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, said homogenous communities 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.

Wermedal said the common characteristic in these communities can be lifestyle-based, like the healthy lifestyles community in Brown, academic-based like the Honors community in Mathews, or based on year in school.

“Communities of sophomores living with other sophomores tend to do better than just sophomores generally, a trend which also holds true for freshmen,” Wermedal said. “It’s all about creating learning communities with similar demographics to support student success rates.”

These communities will also benefit from programming tailored directly to their interests, such as information pertaining to internships or résumé writing for sophomores beginning to identify career paths.

“I think it will be nice for students to have the option of living in an all-sophomore dorm,” said Andrew Grise, a sophomore political science major from Box Elder, S.D. “The social support of having access to people in the same sort of situation you are in can be really important and helpful.”

Wermedal said another reason sophomores will be concentrated in Pierson Hall is because it will be the most heavily impacted by the construction of the new residence halls. Sophomores are already familiar with campus resources and are therefore better able to deal with the inconveniences of the construction.

“They need less support, less guidance, they’re able to live more independently,” Wermedal said.

“A freshman might find themselves overwhelmed by those circumstances, but a sophomore can handle it.”

The construction will mostly affect the ease of getting in and out of the facility. Those who choose 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.

Once construction of the new residence halls is finished, SDSU will have 800 new beds. This means students will have more choices when it comes time to deciding where they want to live from one year to the next.

“We are going to be able to have the difference between a dinner salad and a salad bar in offerings for students in terms of places, amenities and proximities,” Wermedal said.

Besides having different choices for housing, students will also have an entirely different method of registering for on-campus housing — online instead of in line. The housing re-application process will mirror the process for signing up for on-campus housing as a freshman. This will eliminate the necessity of students waiting in line to be the first to sign up for the placement they want.

“Putting the registration online is a great idea,” said Katie Kaminsky, sophomore apparel merchandising student. “I think it will save students time and frustration.”