Shocker Hall is revitalizing and unifying Wichita State

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The opening of Shocker Hall – Wichita State’s new state-of-the-art, centrally located residence facility – is redefining what it means to be a student at WSU.

Shocker Hall opened to all of its residents Aug. 16. With nearly 800 students on five floors, top-notch dining, a coffee shop open 19 hours a day – all in a beautiful, modern setting – Shocker Hall is one of the most exciting updates to campus in decades.

And it’s already changing the way students think about their college experience.

“When you live at Shocker Hall, you develop a sense of belonging – a feeling like you belong at this university,” says junior Alex Van Pelt. “You join a community of people who all have one passion in common: being a Shocker. I think people who live off campus can see this, and more and more people will want to join us here at Shocker Hall.”

The new facility truly defines WSU’s commitment to residential living – a big change from the university’s tradition of being mostly a commuter college.

“There’s a distinction between living near people and living with people, and living on campus, especially in Shocker Hall, we get to really live with one another,” says junior Megan Stessman. “More people are attracted to housing now.”

‘People want to live here’

Shocker Hall is made up of four buildings, one of which has a laundry room, community kitchen and lounge area (referred to as an LKL) on each of its five floors.

There are spacious rooms, high-tech lounges and unprecedented Wi-Fi capabilities. But it’s the social aspect that’s taking Wichita State by storm.

Van Pelt says one of the best parts of Shocker Hall is its outdoor courtyard, which has turned into a social hub for students to gather after class and on weekends to meet with friends or make new ones.

There are also a lot of impromptu get-togethers now in the lounges and game room, says Stessman, a resident assistant in Shocker Hall.

As an RA, she’s in charge of planning educational and social programs for her floor that connect residents with each other and to resources in the university. Most of those planned programs happen at night when people are out of class.

There’s no doubt there is a renewed sense of after-hours life at WSU now that so many students are living in the heart of campus.

“Now that Shocker Hall is here, people want to live here,” says Van Pelt. “That is a complete turn-around from just a year ago. People want to be right here in the middle of all the action which is Wichita State University. Campus is becoming a place you want to be, not just a place for classes. With all the activities and friends right here, who wants to live anywhere else? In my mind, that is a vast improvement.”

Feeling connected

Before moving to Shocker Hall, Stessman lived in Fairmount Towers – located just off campus at the corner of 21st Street and Hillside – and the now closed Wheatshocker Apartments and Brennan Hall. She says student residents used to be in their own bubble, but now there is more of a community culture – and that’s after only a few weeks since Shocker Hall opened.

The dining facility is bringing in WSU professors, administrators and staff who residents wouldn’t have seen previously in the cafeteria, allowing students more interactions with others on campus.

“It is astonishing how much more connected I feel to the campus when I live in its center,” Stessman says. “The energy that has been put into this building and the community has a positive impact on our residents; you can tell that they feel valued and important.”

Van Pelt says the innovative design of Shocker Hall creates a closer sense of community, with large rooms that still let students feel close to their classmates living down the hall. And, he said, it’s not bad to look at either.

“It is simply beautiful. Everything from the rooms to the brand new dining facility have been wonderfully designed to be functional and gorgeous,” Van Pelt says. “I live at Shocker Hall because every time I see it, I can’t help but smile. This place is already my home, and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Source: Wichita State University

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