Prentiss-Lucas to close next fall

Prentiss-Lucas to close next fall

Rachel Hollcraft, Local Reporter

The Winona State Housing and Residence Life Office has decided to make several changes to student housing options, beginning in the Fall 2019 semester.

Due to budget issues and a steady decline in student enrollment over the past seven years, Prentiss-Lucas will be closing down after the Spring 2019 semester.

On West Campus, Lourdes Hall will be reopening the fourth floor. Sheehan Hall will be reopening the twelfth and thirteenth floor and will become co-ed and Conway will be opening a gender-inclusive floor.

Brandon Douglas, the Prentiss-Lucas residence hall director, believes that the closing of Prentiss-Lucas is difficult but necessary to help Winona State.

“As we look at our enrollment as a university and the number of students living on campus, even with [Prentiss-Lucas] closed we still have space to house all the students who live on campus,” Douglas said. “It’s not an easy decision, but a decision like closing [Prentiss-Lucas] and consolidating people into buildings is going to help save money and it’s going to help keep the cost of housing down.”

The closing of Prentiss-Lucas will allow for the remaining halls on campus to have all floors open and filled.

Dorothy Jorgenson, a sophomore elementary education major, who was a resident in Sheehan and is now a resident assistant in Lucas, is sad that Prentiss-Lucas will be closing but also sees the positive opportunities these residence hall changes will allow for students.

“Having halls full again is really exciting. It will be really awesome to have a completely full hall,” Jorgenson said.

Tony Kilian, a sophomore history education major, lived in Prentiss as a freshman and is now a resident assistant in his sophomore year.

“I’m sad, [that] is my initial reaction, because I love this place and I was going to live here my whole college career,” Kilian said.

Every residence hall at Winona State has a unique aspect that residents are proud of. Prentiss-Lucas’s is their active community.

“Our building is particularly conducive to community and so the way that our residents are going to build communities in their halls next year is just going to be different,” Douglas said.

Kilian is one of many students who will miss the community of Prentiss-Lucas.

“My favorite part [of Prentiss-Lucas] is the community. We go get food together, play video games, do homework together. All the residents know each other.”

While a sense of community is possible in any residence hall, Prentiss-Lucas’s physical layout is

built to create connections.

The large basement with studying space, a kitchen and air hockey table allows a space for students to gather at any time. The lobby that connects Prentiss and Lucas has a lounge area with chairs and a TV, where at least several residents are always hanging out.

The community is strong because of a combined effort of staff and residents. Residents care about building lasting relationships and memories. Prentiss-Lucas won the “Spirit Award” at the Battle of the Halls in September and twenty to thirty students consistently come to weekly hall council meetings.

“We have a really strong community this year. There’s always people in the lounge hanging out. We’re kind of using [closing] as an opportunity to make a last bang and not slow down and just keep plugging away. We’ve had a couple extra programs this year and they’ve had really good attendance,” Jorgenson said.

Kilian also sees the importance of finishing out the year strong.

“We’re just trying to focus on still doing our jobs and not getting lazy. We’re trying to stay focused,” Kilian said.

Although changes can be difficult for students, there are positives to Prentiss-Lucas closing.

“They can go out and experience new halls, they can go live in Sheehan or the Quad, Kirkland-Haake or West Campus and they can just see how different it is compared to living in this building,” Kilian said.

Jorgenson believes the strong Prentiss-Lucas community this year has encouraged some residents to think about applying to be resident assistants. She’s excited for the new RA dynamics that will be presented with all the changes happening next year.

“It’s going to be a really good year to apply to be an RA. Just because it’s going to be competitive, and we’re going to get a lot of really good RAs out of it,” Jorgenson said.

Changes in campus housing will present challenges and new opportunities for students.

“This is never an easy decision. We understand that there are people who are going to have thoughts, emotions and feelings about this,” Douglas said. “We want to talk to them. We want to make sure we’re supporting students through those changes because change is hard.”