by Cori Hilsgen
Construction of the the College of St. Benedict Centennial Commons housing units are scheduled to be completed by August.
According to Dean of Students Jody Terhaar, room selection will be based on seniority. Students will select rooms in March.
“It is most likely students who will be seniors next year will be living in the new Centennial Commons townhomes,” Terhaar said.
Centennial Commons will consist of 32 townhomes. One townhome will house the residence director, a full-time CSB staff member who will manage and supervise the 32-unit housing area along with another area. A total of 124 students will live in the townhome units.
Each two-story townhome unit will have four bedrooms with two upstairs and two downstairs. Each unit will also have one bathroom upstairs and one downstairs and will include laundry facilities, a full kitchen with dining area, a living room, storage and shared front porches. The four townhomes will be constructed around a shared courtyard that will be used by the residents for outdoor community space.
All units will share one community-center building, called Centennial Commons, which will provide various rooms for student gatherings. The community center will have a kitchen, fitness room, computer lab and small-group study rooms –two of which can be combined for one larger study room. The outdoor area around the Commons building will have a large patio area with an outdoor grill, fire pit and two ponds. In the winter, these ponds can be shoveled to make a small skating area.
The residential director’s office will also be located in the center. The center will be available for all students to use.
“CSB’s residency requirement prompted the need for additional on-campus housing,” Terhaar said. “With this additional housing, more than 90 percent of CSB students will reside on campus.”
Terhaar said CSB students were previously required to live on campus for the first two years of their college experience. In 2007, CSB leaders implemented a decision that a four-year residential experience would strengthen the overall student experience at the college.
The requirement for the four-year on-campus residency began in 2009. By autumn 2012, all four classes of CSB students will fall under the four-year residency requirement. In special circumstances, students can seek exemption from the requirement.
Terhaar said the college implemented the requirement gradually so families of the students and members of the community could prepare for the change.
Students, such as Lisa Ruprecht from Eden Valley, are excited about the new housing development but are also concerned about the cost.
“I am really excited about the new housing,” Ruprecht said. “I think it’s great they are building a complex that has more of a ‘home’ feel versus a dorm room or apartment.”
Ruprecht, who is a junior in the nursing program, feels the four-year residential experience encourages students to focus on their education.
“In my opinion, the four-year residential experience plan is not a bad idea,” Ruprecht said. “ I feel when students live on campus, they feel more connected to the campus community and are better able to focus on what they came here to do – get an education.”
Ruprecht said she also hopes housing costs to students and families were considered.
“It can (also) be more expensive to live on campus, so I hope cost was considered when this four-year requirement was decided,” Ruprecht said.
The $8-million project, which is located on the corner of College Avenue and Calloway Street across from the main campus, is being built to meet the standards of at least a silver certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design classification. CSB has made a commitment that any new construction would be certified at least at the LEED silver level. LEED is a point based system for satisfying green building criteria. The silver level must attain a minimum of 50 out of 100 points.
Terhaar said students were able to offer a lot of input in the decision process and sustainability was very important to them.
“There is plenty of private space, yet ample common space for impromptu and planned get-togethers or study sessions,” Terhaar said. “Students wanted nice amenities, but mostly sustainability was very important to the students.”
Each townhome unit will be individually metered for electricity, water and gas usage. Students will not be billed separately for those services but will be educated about their actual usage. This is meant to be a learning opportunity so students will be better educated about their consumption of water, electricity and gas bills when they leave the campus.
The housing fee for the new townhomes will be the same as other comparable on-campus housing. Room rates for the 2012-13 year will be available soon.
The units are named in honor of the college’s upcoming centennial in 2013. Each of the four units will also be named after a Sister of the monastic community.