Student Voice

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May 25, 2024

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Events don’t keep students in town on weekends

November 30, 2006

On the big screen, college is often depicted as an opportunity for students to spend weekdays skimming through books while weekends are dedicated to partying.

But UW-River Falls is clearly not a movie.

“It’s dead on weekends here,” May Hall Resident Assistant Melissa Beyer said. “I think most of them go home because they live nearby.”

Beyer said despite residents being a mixture of people from freshmen to seniors, males and females, May Hall clears out on Friday afternoons, leaving 20 to 40 people occupying the hall that houses around 200 students during the week.

Freshman Kevin Smith sees the same pattern happening in Hathorn Hall.

“It’s pretty quiet on weekends,” Smith said.

Sophomore Lynn Hartmann said she has not yet stayed on campus for a weekend since the semester began. Often times she will go to the Twin Cities or Madison to be with her friends there.

“I usually never stick around on weekends because there’s not much to do,” Hartmann said. “A lot of people leave, and the couple of days I did stay here, the campus was pretty dead.”

The number of cars in the parking lots on weekends is significantly lower when compared to the number on weeknights.

In K-Lot, near Stratton and Johnson Halls, there were 63 vehicles parked at 11:15 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18. Compared to the same time on Monday, Nov. 20, the amount nearly doubled with 114 vehicles stationary in the lot.

On the opposite end of campus, the difference was also significant. O-lot, which is situated near South Fork Suites and has a 560-vehicle capacity, had 314 cars filling the spaces at 11:40 p.m. on the same Saturday. The school week brought another 164 vehicles to the lot at the same time on Monday night.

The lots are patrolled for parking permits on weeknights, while they are open to anyone needing a parking space on weekends. This could increase the number of people parking in the lots on weekends to include visitors, skewing the numbers to not be strictly representative of student parking.

Despite not owning a car, even Hartmann makes the trip home many weekends.

“It’s just so easy to leave that I never really hesitate,” she said.

Smith said he heard prior to coming to UWRF that the campus was dubbed a “suitcase campus,” and he discussed that with some other freshmen when he arrived. Despite the rumor, Smith has only taken the 90-mile drive home to Princeton, Minn., once since arriving on campus.

Hartmann has a different perspective.

“I guess I really don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “But I probably wouldn’t stay anyways.”

Smith disagrees.

“It seems like every weekend there is at least one type of event to go to,” Smith said.

That’s the kind of feedback UWRF Event Coordinator Karyn Kling said she likes to hear.

“We feel that there are a lot of students on campus on weekends,” Kling said.

Realizing that, Kling said she and the other activity planners, students and professional staff looked at the campus calendar and made sure there was an event every weekend for the entire year by at least one organization.

She said she has seen similar turnouts for the events on weekends that she sees during the week.

Campus-wide events are not the only ones being planned to keep students on college grounds after completing weeks of classes, tests and socializing.

RAs have made efforts to infuse programs, events and contests to encourage people to stay.

Parker RA Shelby Rubbelke and Hall Manager Katie Bollig both said they encourage their residents to stay at UWRF on the weekends.

Bollig said many of the residents in Parker are first-year students who form friendships early, and “the events will help keep people together.”

She said she believes it’s especially important for students to stays on weekends during their first semester to develop a sense of college life.

“It’s exciting to see people staying on campus,” Bollig said.

Stratton Hall Manager Nikki Peters said age may factor in some of the different ideas regarding the way weekend activities are perceived on campus.

“It’s harder to change the mindset of upperclassmen,” she said. “We’re programming for the future.”

UWRF’s reputation as a suitcase campus “is perpetuated by students repeating it,” Peters said.

Crabtree RA Jen Schofield agrees.

“If they hear it’s a suitcase campus, they’ll believe it,” Schofield said. “We need to try and break that.”

Kling said she also feels the need to break the stigma. By eliminating the phrase “suitcase campus” from students in leadership roles and professional staffing, the idea will be less associated with UWRF.

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