BHSU Breaks Ground on Crow Peak Hall

Students and administration take part in the groundbreaking for new residence hall.

Black Hills State University had a groundbreaking ceremony for the new residence hall – Crow Peak Hall that has been in the planning process for the past 10 years. President Kay Schallenkamp, Vice President of Student Life, Lois Flagstad, South Dakota Board of Regents members and other high ranking officials celebrated this groundbreaking ceremony on Feb. 14.

“I want to say congratulations for this project although I must say, I went to school in the 1960s and if those halls were good enough for me, they ought to be good enough for today’s students as well,” said Dr. Jack Warner, the Executive Director and CEO of the South Dakota Board of Regents. “But we know that’s not the reality and in fact, students pick institutions based on the quality of living quarters that they see.”

Warner’s good humor about the dorms being good enough back in the day kept the attention of the audience. It is understood that there is no way that any student in today’s day in age wants to live in a tiny dorm with only one bathroom. Students want more space and more amenities.

Warner talked about the importance of having a living and learning environment and how living on campus will help BHSU keep more students and will make the students more successful in the long run. He talked about how beneficial it is for students to reside on campus because of the intense learning and living environment where the two are integrated.

“We will retain more students, we will make them more successful and we will contribute in significant ways to their learning and living experience on campus,” Warner said.

Crow Peak Residence Hall will connect the two existing halls, Heidepriem Hall and Thomas Hall. The new building will have four-person suites with a shared bathroom. There will also be a two-story great room, a residential kitchen, fireplace, study rooms, and an outdoor learning venue and amphitheater, which will be available for Heidi and Thomas residents to use as well.

Dr. Flagstad talked about the great room being a place where students can congregate while learning.

Dr. Warner said that Flagstad’s point was very important because having this kind of learning center can help students wrestle with different ideas they have learned in class. He also noted that discussions will continue beyond class, study groups will form and students can share information with each other.

Warner said the dorm life was a lot different in the 1960s when he was a student.

“They packed four of us into a room that was designed for three and we didn’t have the kinds of amenities that today’s students have, but today’s residence halls are deigned more intentionally to be learning centers so you build them as suites with a little gathering area so students have a place to converse..” Warner said.

Residence halls have changed a lot in the past 10 years. As of now, there are more co-ed dorms than ever before with more lenient rules. President Schallenkamp said that residence life has changed dramatically since she attended college.

“We had (curfew) hours 10 p.m. during the week, midnight on Friday and Saturday. If we were late, the dorm mother locked the doors and we had to buzz her apartment to get into the hall which usually involved a lecture and demerits. If we accumulated a certain number of demerits, we were “grounded” and were not allowed to leave the hall in the evenings, the number of nights depended on the severity of the infraction,” President Schallenkamp said.

She said that they were not allowed to have TV’s, refrigerators, or any items that contained alcohol beverage logos in their rooms. They were required to wear skirts/dresses to the dining hall and they also had quiet hours for studying and unannounced room checks for cleanliness.

“We had a pretty good alert system as we would call others if someone checked our rooms so they could quickly clean,” President Schallenkamp said.

Vice President for University Advancement, Steve Meeker graduated from BHSU in 1984. Meeker said that the dorms have changed quite a bit since he was studying at BHSU.

“We had a blast like most students do in the residence halls. Probably the biggest difference between then and now is the use of alcohol and tobacco. I remember going to toga parties with alcohol served up in the hallways of Pangburn. I also remember that you had to check off on your application if you wanted a smoking or non-smoking roommate. The use of alcohol and tobacco of course has changed dramatically everywhere since 1980 and for the better.” Meeker said. He lived in Pangburn Hall in 1980 and 1981.

Meeker said that a huge change that BHSU has made is meals on weekends for students. The cafeteria was not open on weekends when Meeker was on campus and said that they had to fend for themselves, which meant a lot of macaroni and cheese.

“I’m fortunate, because of the job I have working with alumni, I still see a good number of the people I lived with in Pangburn Hall and we’re still close friends,” Meeker said.

Ashley Hein, who lived in the dorms in 2010-2011 said that one of the things she really enjoyed was the convenience of being on campus and close to everything at all times.

“It was really nice being able to walk everywhere. It was also really fun to have the opportunity to paint one of the walls in the room. It provided my roommate and I some bonding time as we painted it together and worked as a team to accomplish the task together,” said Hein, Art Education major.

Residence life is continuing changes to meet the needs of students all across the nation. The new 50,000-square foot hall will be a big addition to the BHSU campus and will give students a place to integrate their studies and living space.

“My favorite part about living on campus is the opportunities you have to be involved with the school. The dorms in particular are a great place to meet new friends and develop your social life,” said Leah Lashley, elementary education and early childhood special education major who lives in Humbert Hall.

Seth Courtney, Alumni, and Hall Director of Wenona Cook said that it is amazing working with students, and helping them make the transition from incoming freshmen to adept college students who are connected to campus and enjoying their college experience.

“As students, we were able to help decide if the hall(Crow Peak Hall) would have co-ed wings and if it would be suite style or conventional setup. We even got to choose what color scheme was used,” Courtney said.

President Schallenkamp said the rest-room facilities have been updated, as well as lobby areas, painted and they have carpeted most of the rooms. Crow Peak Hall is the first new residence hall being built in 50 years.

“Planning for Crow Peaks has taken longer than we would have liked but we needed to determine the best location, develop the design and secure firm funding models to ensure we have the resources to pay the bonds,” Schallenkamp said.

Crow Peak Hall is expected to be complete by the summer of 2015.