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Towers re-opening expands on-campus community

September 30, 2004

Photo of students lining up for a piece of a cake designed to look like the Towers at Centennial SquareA ribbon-cutting ceremony held yesterday at the Towers at Centennial Square celebrated new housing options for students who want to live on campus. The newly renovated Towers, formerly known as the Residence Apartment Building, re-opened at the beginning of this semester after closing in 2000 because of water intrusion and mold problems.

With the Towers' 600 beds added to those in the Village at Centennial Square and Mary Ward and Mary Park halls, the University is now able to provide the most on-campus housing in its history.

But the Towers offer more than traditional housing. Two colleges are creating special theme communities designed to help students succeed in their degree programs.

About 30 first-time freshmen living on the second floor of the Towers are taking part in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Learning Community, a pilot program in which the students learn skills in studying, time management, organization and writing as well as drug and alcohol prevention. Part of a special First -Year Experience course for majors in the behavioral and social sciences, the program also includes film screenings, guest lectures and field trips.

"We know friends who are studying similar subjects," said Rachel Sharp, a psychology major from El Dorado Hills. "I also really like that we have the (FirstYear Experience) class together."

Psychology Professor Margaret Lynch, who teaches the class and leads the program, said the goals are to help freshmen thrive at SFSU as well as familiarize them with all of the departments and programs in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

"We want them to understand they have a 'membership' to the BSS college," Lynch said. "We will explore other disciplines and how they look at things. We want the students to feel fully integrated into the college."

The Towers also hosts a Science and Technology Theme Community (STTC) for freshmen interested in science- and tech-related majors. Sponsored by the College of Science and Engineering, the more than 100 students in the community have access to an on-site computer lab and tutoring and participate in activities such as dinners with science and engineering faculty members and field trips.

The goal is to not only get students excited about majoring in science or engineering, but to also help them through some of the difficult pre-requisite courses (such as organic chemistry) that can be a barrier to qualifying for upper-division courses in a student's major.

"I was really interested in the fact that it was a bunch of science students all together because I'm strong in biology but my weakness is in chemistry, so I thought if you had a bunch of students interested in science you could pool everybody's strengths and help each other," said STTC resident Marie Stitt, a biology major from West Point, located in the Sierra Nevada foothills. "It just sounded like a really great experience."

Although this is the first time that this many students have participated in a theme community, Housing and Residential Services has experimented with them in the past, including one for freshmen participating in L-SITE, a program that allows incoming freshmen who know they want to teach elementary school to complete a bachelor's degree and teaching credential in four and a half years.

Housing applications for 2005-06 for the STTC, the Towers and Mary Ward and Mary Park halls will be available in mid-October. For details, see the Housing and Residential Services Web site.

-- William Morris and Matt Itelson


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Last modified September 30, 2004 by University Communications