Bethel announces major housing changes

March 7, 2013 | 11 a.m.

Student Life confident that despite potential snags, the change is good for the community

News | Celeste Harlow for The Clarion

Bethel announces major housing changes

Photo for The Clarion by Erin Gallagher

With the housing process underway, Bethel students have a few different options than in years past. Because undergraduate housing is being removed from Fountain Terrace and transferred to Widen Hall in the fall of 2013, North Village will split into two dorms – North Woods and North Waters. However, these changes raise questions other than what color shirt the new dorm will wear for homecoming.

For the past two years, the Office of Student Life has been attempting to move all single undergraduate students to the main campus. Jim Benjamin, the associate dean for resident life, explained that they sensed students felt “forced to live in Fountain.” Moving forward, Benjamin and his colleagues want to offer an alternative they think will better suit the community in the long run.

Fountain Terrace will become a Bethel-run apartment community, instead of a dormitory. The hope is that it will foster a true apartment style community, which will consist of students from the seminary, graduate school and college of adult and professional studies as well as faculty, staff and married undergrads.

Minor renovations will begin this summer to prepare each building for the switch. These changes will be similar to the shift Wessman underwent two years ago when it was converted from seminary housing to undergraduate dorms.

Though housing has undergone change for a few years, the newest shift may be the most drastic yet, raising concerns from students of both dorms involved. Seminary families will be especially affected by the change, particularly those with children. The current residents of Wingblade and Widen have developed a strong sense of community which will likely be lost as students and their families decide where to live.

Some current residents of Fountain Terrace also face a difficult decision. Each resident of Fountain receives a 20 percent discount on their housing costs. As they move back to campus, this discount will dissolve, leaving some students without affordable housing alternatives.

In the midst of these internal changes, more off-campus housing options will become available this coming fall. E-Street Flats is a new student housing development a mile from campus on the corner of Country Road and Lexington. The new apartments will be inside the renovated hotel previously used for Northwestern College housing.

E-Street plans on offering a range of amenities and apartment styles for all college students in the area. With Fountain Terrace no longer a community option off of the main campus, some Bethel students may opt for the off-campus college community of these new apartments.

Benjamin is not worried about this potential competition or the possible loss of seminary residents. He is confident the housing changes will be positive for the Bethel community as a whole by fulfilling his office’s goal “to have all on-campus housing truly on campus.”

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