After standing vacant for two years, the roundhouse at the corner of West Campus Road and Elm Street finally has a new tenant. Constructed in 1963, the newly named Aspen Hall was refurbished over an eight week period earlier this semester and had its open house last Friday, November 16. In the spring, the building will house 20 or so male students as part of a male leadership housing theme proposed by the building’s resident assistant Grant Johnson. The open house provided an opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to see the interior of one of the most distinctive buildings on campus.
During the open house, “The Oredigger” met with Johnson who said the idea for a residence hall “started as a way to de-triple Maple.” With CSM admissions at an all-time high, many students were forced to triple up this semester. Johnson pitched the idea for a male leadership theme to Residence Life as an expansion of the themed housing introduced by Residence Life earlier this semester. When his idea was approved, Johnson presented to all male triple room residents, many of whom showed interest in moving into Aspen Hall to be a part of the new community. “We wanted it to be a place where students wanted to live,” said Brent Waller, Director of Residence Life and Housing. He said, “Students want to be a part of leadership.”
Johnson said that the male leadership theme is based on the five pillars of “service, communication, wellbeing, mentorship, and knowledge” and that it was his goal to form a strong community. He wants “a group that will better themselves and serve the community and others,” as well as “being well rounded.” To build the community and enhance integration with the campus, Johnson plans to hold family dinner nights, invite guest speakers, and invite faculty to talk with the students. With an expansive rec room and kitchen under the round part of the building, Aspen Hall has ample space to host these events and for residents to relax, do homework, and socialize with friends. The round shape also lends itself to community, as the majority of rooms are off of one central “hub,” making it easier for residents to congregate in the center.
Part of what will make Aspen Hall unique is that residents were not forced to move there. “The majority volunteered to come over here,” said Waller. “We wanted it to be a place where students wanted to live,” he said. Waller also addressed the proximity of Aspen Hall to the fraternity houses when he said, “We don’t want to step on the fraternities.” He sees the proximity as an opportunity to work together, suggesting that Aspen Hall and the fraternities could co-sponsor events and interact in other positive ways.
With the addition of themed housing and Aspen Hall, Residence Life is working hard to ease the transition of first-year students to college. There are many more options for students than there were even a few years ago and each is designed to get students more involved. With Waller and residence assistants like Johnson, the future for upcoming student housing projects is bright.