Liz Babiarz, 404-413-1356
Summer Amick lugs a laundry basket filled with bedding and towels up the sidewalk toward Georgia State’s Freshman Hall. Her parents, rolling a suitcase and pushing a dolly stacked with boxes, follow closely behind.
Soon the freshman will be moved into her dorm room and ready to say good bye to her folks, officially kicking off her college experience.
This is a scene that plays out each year at traditional four-year universities and has finally come to Georgia State.
“I’m excited to be living in a dorm with other freshmen, getting that experience, but I also like that I’m in the city,” said Amick, 18, from McDonough, Ga.
On Aug. 12, Georgia State opened a new, 87,000-square-foot dorm exclusively for freshmen with a dining hall on the ground floor that is available to the entire GSU community.
The facility is a milestone for Georgia State and a sign that the once commuter school is morphing into a university where a large number of students live on campus and walk to class.
“This is another example of how Georgia State is creating a more traditional college experience and expanding its footprint in downtown Atlanta,” Georgia State President Mark P. Becker said.
The $15.7 million Freshman Hall adds 325 beds to the university’s housing base, which now totals approximately 3,000 beds. Students living in the Freshman Hall will enjoy suite-style floor plans. Three undergraduates live in each suite with a conjoining bathroom to share – two beds on one side of the bathroom and a single on the other.
Rooms feature lofted beds, a desk and chair, dresser, lockable closet, and cable and Internet connections. Each floor has an open community lounge with a 50-inch wide screen television and wireless Internet access.
First-year students in the hall will participate in the “Freshman Experience Program,” a lifestyle program that focuses on social and academic success, run by University Housing. It will help freshmen establish a network of faculty and staff partners, get tutoring help when needed, become involved in leadership opportunities and make upper-class friends through resident assistants.
“The expectation of participants is to take part in the whole first year experience and not take a spectator seat,” said Robert Morton, associate director of housing at Georgia State.
The dining hall will offer an “all you care to eat” plan. It will serve freshly prepared food at several stations including: The Garden Patch, a salad and soup bar; Almost Home, home style cooking; The 1913 Bistro, chef selected meals; Fired Up Grille, hot and cold sandwiches; Passports, international cuisine; Baker’s Oven, a bakery featuring Belgian waffle station, breads and desserts.
“I like it that the dining hall is downstairs and you can eat as much as you want, which is great because I can’t cook,” said David Roberson, 18, from Stockbridge, Ga.
The Department of Auxiliary and Support Services worked with Christine Rosenbloom, a Georgia State registered dietitian, to develop a healthy menu. A label system will also be in place to point students to low fat, vegetarian, quality carbohydrates, lean protein and other healthful choices.
“The new dining hall presents a wonderful opportunity for students to enrich their university experience by providing them a place to meet and connect with other students on campus,” said Wayne E. Reed, assistant vice president for Auxiliary and Support Services.
The Freshman Hall was a flurry of activity during move-in days, with students and their families toting belongings into the building and getting settled. In the air, a nervous excitement lingered among the first-time students as they started to meet one another.
“I like that everyone is the same age going through the experiences, so it’s easier to turn to someone and talk to them if you know it’s their first time going through this also,” said Lawkwanzaa Walton, 18, from Athens, Ga. “I think it’s going to be fun.”
Parents also had peace of mind about the new residence hall.
“She’s always been very close to me and it’s her first time being away from home, but I feel here I won’t have to worry,” said Frankie Walton, Lawkwanzaa’s mother. “I’m happy she’s here and feel she’ll be safe.”
For more information on the Freshman Hall visit: http://www.gsu.edu/housing/freshman_hall.html.
For more information on Panther Dining, visit: http://www.gsu.edu/pantherdining.