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Building project will revamp Saint Mary’s

Megan O'Neil | Thursday, August 28, 2003

The Saint Mary’s College Master Plan, an expansive building project which will span several years, is well under way and has already given the college a new look. And returning Saint Mary’s students are finding themselves slightly disoriented on campus this fall.

The recently-completed Noble Family Dining Hall, a keystone of the campus changes, has given students a taste of what the future of Saint Mary’s will look like. The verdict on the new facility, however, is waiting to be heard.

Many students agree that the building itself, which sits just west of the site of the old hall, is beautiful both inside and out.

“It is pretty cool because it is more open and modern, there is a different atmosphere in here than in the old one,” said McCandless sophomore Desiree Antonson.

New seating arrangements, which consist of an assortment of long rectangular and circular tables, have been well received. The layout and organization of the new facility, however, has received its share of criticism.

“It is a bit chaotic with all the different food lines,” said Le Mans senior Erin Quinn. “Everyone just gets in the first line they see.”

Regina junior Tabitha Rand said that the new look may have compromised convenience.

“The atmosphere is better,” she said, “but it takes longer to get your food. They are all about the presentation, not necessarily the process.”

Another concern the students have is the fact that they may no longer serve themselves. Instead, they must wait in line for a dining hall employee to place a single serving onto their plates.

Others had positive responses to the improvements and said they believe it will simply take some adjustment to smooth out the confusion.

A subsequent component of the College’s Master Plan includes a student center. The center, which will connect to the new dining hall, will house the College’s bookstore, a cyber café, Campus Ministry, and Student Government. The center will provide both a social and academic meeting place for students and advisors. It is scheduled to be completed in January of 2005.

A third building phase is the addition of on-campus apartment-style housing. Projected to be inhabitable by the fall semester of 2004, the three-story building will hold 72 residents. Although it has not yet been determined whether Saint Mary’s residence hall rules will apply, the apartments are expected to make living on campus all four years an attractive option for students.