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Student Center opens to public

Justin Tardiff | Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Saint Mary’s students returning from spring break this weekend had at least one good thing to look forward to – a new Student Center.

The Student Center, which opened Sunday evening after months of anticipation, is the new home for more than a dozen offices at the college including the Shaheen Bookstore, First Source Bank, campus ministry and student government.

Students and faculty toured the new building throughout Sunday evening and into Monday, asking questions of Student Activities Director George Rosenbush.

Rosenbush coordinated the switch to the new building, an undertaking that spanned several months.

Even Saint Mary’s President Carol Mooney stopped by and poked her head into some of the conference rooms and offices.

“It’s absolutely beautiful. I think it will attract more students to Saint Mary’s,” said junior Michelle Fitzgerald. “It gives it more of a college feel.”

Construction on the Student Center, which has three floors and adjoins the dining hall, began in early 2004. Work on the interior of the building was almost completely finished last month. Students will now enter the dining hall through the main entrance of the Student Center.

Various campus groups had been packing for weeks to prepare for their new offices and were allowed to access them during spring break.

Director of Multicultural Affairs Terri Johnson said one of the best parts of moving into the building was watching students’ faces as they took it all in for the first time.

“When you walk in you can feel the spirit of everyone together. And I think that is why we have this,” said Johnson. “I feel the community here.”

However, the transition to the new building is far from over. Staff members continue to wheel in carts laden with boxes, and many have yet to be given their own set of keys. A cyber café is still under construction.

The cornerstone of the Student Center, the bookstore and the new convenience store, will not open until Wednesday.

Assistant bookstore manager Bob Dezenzo said the delay was necessary to ensure the bookstore would be ready for business and that he was “ecstatic” about the change in locations.

“We like the new digs. It is just gorgeous. It gives us a touch of class,” Dezenzo said. “We can’t wait for the students to come in for the first time.”

The new bookstore is twice as big as the old one and Dezenzo said students should expect double the merchandise. Tables were already filled Monday with new Saint Mary’s items such as T-shirts, hats and champagne glasses.

“We really want students to give their input. This is their store,” Dezenzo said. “We are just the keepers of the gate.”

Hours for the store have been extended to Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Weekend hours have not yet been established.

The convenience store will offer an expanded range of products previously sold at the bookstore such as toiletries and food products. It will be open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to midnight.

While Dezenzo said the move has been trying at times, he knows the outcome will be terrific.

“The staff has worked extremely hard. I’m very proud of them and the work that they have done,” he said.

Director of campus ministry Judy Fean welcomed visitors Monday afternoon to the campus ministry office with a flier detailing office hours. Campus ministry will continue to operate largely out of Regina Hall, Fean said, but their office in the Student Center will allow them a prime location to reach out to students.

Assistant director of Student Activities Stacy Eckstein praised Building Services for helping her and her colleague with the move and said she is looking forward to the functional qualities of the building.

“We are better able to support students than before,” Eckstein said.

Numerous visitors commented on the brightness of the new Center and its central location on campus.

“I just think it is cool to have someplace to hang out beside the library, which is not fun,” said sophomore Audra Maxbauer.

Touring the Student Center Monday afternoon, junior Jenny Robbins said she was impressed with what the College had done.

“We’re so lucky to have this building that we have waited so long for and we have worked so hard for,” Robbins said.