Closure of West Campus displaces students & staff


McKenna Scherer

Lourdes Hall, now sitting empty of student life and activity, its parking lots empty as well.

Gabriel Hathaway, Editor-In-Chief

In July 2021, Winona State University announced itsclosure of West Campus. This decision displaced 200 students and a number of staff members.
On July 9, 2021 in a schoolwide email, President Scott Olson explained how closing West Campus was apparently always part of a long-term plan to centralize student housing to Main Campus. Olson went on to mention how this plan was accelerated due to numerous factors.
Sarah Alcott, associate director of Housing and Residence Life, elaborated on the reasons for West Campus closing.
Alcott said the closure of West Campus was a “numbers” decision.
“The Lourdes building alone would house almost 400 students; Maria alone would house 200 students. So, to have a total population of 200 would have felt like no one was there,” Alcott said.
Alcott also said the logistics of a West Campus dining hall was another factor in the closure.
“It would be really hard to sustain a food service for only 200
people,” Alcott said. “Chartwells is having staffing problems as it is trying to get enough people to work. The idea of having to staff two full cafeterias with the current employment shortage would have been really challenging.”
Alcott also commented that the decision to close West Campus “was not made lightly, but it was made with the student in mind.”
All students and staff affected by this change were offered rooms and jobs on Main Campus.
Some students who were displaced by West Campus closing were upset over the change. One such student is Erich Schweitzer.
Schweitzer is a third-year student who commented he enjoyed his first two years on West Campus and was signed up for a third before West closed. Schweitzer commented he and his friends were all upset over the abrupt change.

“In July we got the email that West Campus is closing and that we’re being moved to Main Campus and I, I reasonably I think, was pretty mad and so were my friends.We were all pretty mad,” Schweitzer said. “We all already had our rooms picked out.”
Schweitzer said he was also frustrated about being placed with a roommate after signing up for a single room.
“I signed up for a single room, so it’s still a little bit annoying [to not have received on], because you sign up for a single, you put down a downpayment, you pay for it, and then they stick you with this [a double room],” Schweitzer said. “But I have kind of made peace with it now, but I have to say, I don’t really like where I live.”
Some students are aiming to remain positive and trying to make the best of their situation.
Luke Torian is a third-year student who also spent his first two years on West Campus and was scheduled to be a Resident Assistant on West this year. He was moved to Morey-Shepherd on Main due to the change.
Torian commented he was sad over West Campus closing because of the community and atmosphere that was unique there, he said.

Signs now float on the entry doors to all of the dormitories on West Campus, including Lourdes and Maria Halls, stating their closures. (McKenna Scherer)

“I was on West Campus my first and second year and the community over there was simply amazing,” Torian said. “I made so many friends my freshman year, the energy we had was something magical.”
Torian also said he is confident the Community Mentors (CMs) and Resident Assistants (RAs) brought over from West Campus can bring that same sense of community and magic over to Main Campus this year.
“We’re doing our best for events, and the CMs have a lot of events planned,” Torian said. “In a way, like silvering-lining, it [West Campus events] will be open up to anyone now.”
Some things from West Campus have already been brought over to Main Campus, like Mugshots, a student-run coffeehouse that offers refreshments and entertainment every Thursday night. It is now located in Zanes.
Another event currently in the works that Torian is excited to see make a comeback on Main Campus is Battleships, another popular event from West Campus he hopes will be equally has exciting this year.