The campus of St. Cloud State will be receiving a taste of new and old with the reopening of the recently renovated Stearns Hall beginning in fall of 2018 to provide more on-campus housing options for upperclassmen. This decision came from the Residence Hall Association (RHA) about a month and a half ago as a way to provide an inexpensive housing alternative for returning students.
“We’re always looking to provide a relevant and meaningful experience for students and so as we are planning renovations, we need to be looking at the needs of our students,” Director of Residential Life Jen Matzke said.
Unlike other residential halls on campus, “Simply Stearns” will provide a variety of convenient amenities that Residential Life is hoping students won’t turn down.
“There’s a kitchen and a microwave and a stove and everything on every floor as well as a laundry room on every floor,” Associate Director of Residential Life Kenny Hendrickson said.
Along with these exciting changes, Stearns will offer premium single rooms for students which will include a private restroom, which is something the Residence Hall Association continues to hear students recommend for on-campus housing.
Not only is Simply Stearns going to have all these extra conveniences, it’s also close in proximity to everything on campus, and the single rooms are set to cost around $5,000 for the year, which is about a $3,000 difference compared to the other dorm halls on campus.
“We’re really excited to see what that facility will provide,” Matzke said. “It’s been vacant for four years and we do need to have Stearns available to us.”
With the reopening of Stearns Hall, it will bring other changes to residential life at St. Cloud State since some of the buildings are on the edge of being torn down or put out of commission. Of these changes will include the removal of Benton Hall along with tearing down Mitchell Hall.
Hendrickson said the reason Benton was put offline is because the building no longer reached the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) since there are no elevators or other required commodities such as ramps and wider doorways. However, with the revival of Stearns, those upper-division students will be able to live there as opposed to Benton which was also built to house returning students.
“We’ve taken [Benton] offline because of cost efficiency and it would be better for us to bulldoze that building and put a new facility in its site,” Hendrickson said.
Not only is the renovated Stearns building going to compete with the other on-campus housing options, but it is also RHA’s main goal to bring students who may live off-campus back to campus.
“We want to attract more students that are possibly living off campus now to come back on campus because of the convenience and the reduced cost… it’s going to give them a lot more options,” Hendrickson said.
This 1964 building got a facelift on the inside to the extent that it won’t look like it’s over 50-years-old. Prior to its internal renovation, it had a lot of darker wood, but then everything was repainted, cleaned and refurbished to get it ready for students once again.
Another pressing question that some current students may have is, what is going to happen to that empty space right next to Stearns? That is the site of where Stearns Hall’s twin brother resided, Holes Hall.
Holes Hall was torn down in 2014 due to shrinking enrollment with only around 30-40 students being housed there in its final year along with the opening of Coborn Plaza. This space has sat empty since Holes was torn down, and it will continue to stay as green space for students to hang out at.
“We felt there’s too many parking lots on our campus and we wanted to show more green space… just to make it feel like it’s a city type environment, not just bricks and mortar and tar everywhere,” Hendrickson said.
The Residence Hall Association is offering individual tours to anyone interested in seeing or living in the recently renovated Stearns Hall with a scheduled appointment. For more information about on-campus St. Cloud State housing, visit the Department of Residential Life’s website.