Silver Lake College now offers student housing

By | August 19, 2009

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Construction workers prepare to pour concrete near the entrance of Silver Lake College’s new student dorms on Aug. 11. (Rick Evans | For The Compass)

New student housing supports that mission. This fall, for the first time, Silver Lake students will live on campus. Clare Hall, a former home for faculty members from the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, has been renovated to create a residence hall with a capacity to house 180 students.

“The goal is to build a community where the students want to be there,” said Rachel Fischer, director of residence life and student life. “We want them to feel like Silver Lake is their home. We want to create that college culture and that really comes from the residence hall and student activities.”

Fischer, a Reedsville native and Ripon College graduate who previously worked in residence life at the University of Dubuque in Iowa, said programming efforts will not only be designed for the on-campus students but the entire Silver Lake community.

“The non-traditional and commuter students are as much a part of the college as the traditional-age residential students,” she said. “We want to offer activities that appeal to all students. We can take advantage of Facebook, Twitter and MySpace to publicize events and activities. We need to use technology to meet the students where they are in their lives.”

An intramural athletic program is among the plans. Campus Ministry has moved to a new space on campus and will offer expanded programming this fall. Fischer said that she expects the first year with on-campus housing to include some growing pains.

“It’s exciting, but it’s a challenge,” she said. “My mentor has told me that it will take about three years for things to be the way we would like them. This year, my goal, as far as housing, is to see most of the students return and improve the numbers for the second year.”

Clare Hall features four floors and basement space for a total of 43,300 square-feet. Resident assistants will live on each floor. The fourth floor, which is co-ed, features 15 suite style rooms and an apartment where Fischer will reside. Twenty-nine students will live on the top floor.

The first three floors feature resident rooms, common areas featuring televisions and shared restrooms. Women will be housed on the third floor and men on the second. The gender designation for the first floor will be determined as on-campus occupancy grows, said Fischer.

The basement includes the Ikon Service Center, which provides printing, copying and mailing services; laundry facilities; a recreational area and game room; and storage rooms.

An atrium with outdoor seating is also a part of the building project. The residence hall was designed by Bray Architect and renovated by CD Smith Co. Security is a priority. The building features internal and external camera surveillance, and electronic locks on all entry doors.

Student regulations and policies that were already in place transfer to the residence hall, said Fischer. No alcohol is permitted on campus and smoking is only allowed in designated areas.

Clare Hall is part of Phase I of the Campus Master Plan. The initial phase will also include the building of a music studies and performance center and a wellness recreation athletic facility.

Now that residence space in Clare Hall is available, Silver Lake will no longer offer student apartments located near campus as in recent years. Opportunities to be a part of the Manitowoc community will continue, said Fischer.

“The city bus stops at the college, which is convenient,” she said. “I was reading about youth ministry in Manitowoc. If students are living here, they have opportunities with the area church. If they have something to do on Friday and Saturday nights, there is a good chance they will be around on Sunday to get involved.”

Classes for the fall session at Silver Lake begin Sept. 8. The first few weeks will be important to help the students adjust to their new home, said Fischer.

“We want them to feel acclimated and comfortable,” she said. “In those first two weeks, the returning students will decide if this is or isn’t for them. For the new students, we want them to feel like this is where they belong. This is where I want to stay. This is where I want to be for the next four years. It’s all about building community.”

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