The beginning of Augustana’s 2022-2023 school year marked the opening of Ralph H. Wagoner Hall, a new residence hall located on the south side of campus.
Wagoner features co-ed floors with pod, or suite, style living in which two double rooms share a bathroom.
Wagoner Hall director Maggie McMahon says the dorm presents “a brand new style of community,” with new opportunities for people to live, learn and interact within a space.
Each dorm room has two built-in closets, dressers, desks, loftable beds, a micro-chill unit and a sink. Each room also contains an air conditioning and heating unit, which its occupants can control. Bathrooms feature lockable doors, a toilet and a shower — some of which include flush shower floors, making them handicap accessible.
Each floor also features specified rooms with audio-visual door alerts for the hearing impaired. McMahon explains these rooms feature a flashing light when a visitor presses a button on the outside of the door.
The new residence hall also features amenities for campus and residential use.
In the public area of Wagoner, all on-campus Augustana students can enjoy a brand new kitchen, multipurpose room and meditation room with its own foot-washing station, as well as a lounge and study rooms.
Wagoner residents also have access to a study room on each floor and a spacious laundry room on the first floor.
All Wagoner entrances require a student to swipe their ID to gain access to the building, and once inside, it includes an additional swipe to enter the residential area of the building.
Handicap-door access is also available after students swipe their IDs. Additionally, the building includes an elevator near the residential area.
After living in Wagoner, sophomore Elizabeth Gullikson said she has “become more aware of how accessible dorms should be.”
According to McMahon, Wagoner was built with the intention of creating more community spaces for Augustana students and presenting more options for programming, especially food-related events.
Student organizations such as Augie Green have already taken advantage of Wagoner’s kitchen by holding “What if…” events, an event focused on canning different vegetables provided from the Augie Garden. The organization already has canned pickles, salsa and pasta sauce.
While it’s still early in the school year, Wagoner residents have expressed their enjoyment of the building.
Sophomore Kim Kadrmas, who’s an English and secondary education major, said she enjoys the convenience of Wagoner.
“It’s a twenty-second walk to Humanities,” Kadrmas said.
Sophomore Elizabeth Gullikson said she enjoys her shared bathroom and having suitemates because she thinks of them as extra roommates.
Despite the amenities, some residents and Viking advisors have said that the building doesn’t build a sense of community as easily.
Gullikson said she misses the small hallway conversations between residences in her past dorm.
“People really don’t need to come out of their room for any sort of reason anymore,” Gullikson said.
Wagoner Viking advisor Lily Blechinger said she has to put in more effort to make interactions with her residents count.
“It’s harder to know my floor when I don’t see them as much,” Blechinger said.
Communication is not the only challenge with Wagoner, though. Blechinger said she misses the amount of storage included in her past dorms.
“Just having that little desk…and that desk has no drawer,” Blechinger said. “These are things that I think could have been thought of from the student’s perspective of ‘we need storage.’”
Some students have also noted that the building doesn’t feel as move-in ready as it should.
“It definitely was rushed a little,” Kadrmas said. “Even looking around the room, there’s little nicks on the walls and paint on my floor and fridge.”
McMahon said that Augustana is “working through every scenario” regarding these issues and is discussing how to best address these complaints.
Overall, McMahon said she thinks there is a lot of excitement for Wagoner.