Anyone on campus can agree that Hoyum is the “music hall” on campus, but that will all change. Hoyum will be closed next year, in an attempt to conserve funds to remodel and open Brown Hall.
The decision was made, said Director of Residence Life Mikal Kenfield, during the formation of Concordia’s latest ten-year master plan. “One of the priorities we have is the student living experience. Key to that is that we really want to reopen Brown,” Kenfield said.
After one year of living on campus, many students are looking for housing that allows them more freedom and space. Another element Concordia is seeking to provide is greater accessibility. “We have all these wishlists, and Brown seems like a beautiful place to be able to make those wishes come true,” Kenfield said.
Brown was originally closed due to consistent and disruptive plumbing issues, and the building has to be completely redesigned due to its age. A timeline on the project has not yet been determined, but the beginning steps have started taking place. “The shovel in the ground might not happen for four or five years, but we need to start working now to do those things so we don’t have to wait another year,” Kenfield said.
The decision to close Hoyum was made easier by the fact that there are many open beds in halls across campus. Vanessa Truelove, Hall Director of Hoyum, said, “With the projected amount of students we’re going to have on campus next year and the amount of beds we currently have, we have a surplus of beds. We don’t need as many beds as we have, even with Boe-Olson offline as mostly (quarantine and isolation) spaces.”
Enrollment is at a lower level than in previous years, but this is not unique to Concordia. Kenfield said that comparable schools in the state are also seeing a decline in enrollment, due primarily to the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. “When you look at similar schools in Minnesota, a lot of schools have seen declining enrollment and the pool of the students they typically draw from has been smaller,” said Kenfield.
The closing of Hoyum will take away one hall that many first- and second-year students often choose. “In my experience talking with students, it’s mostly the nostalgia factor,” Truelove said. Kenfield understands any upset students may feel over the closing of the hall, saying, “Where you live matters. From my time working at Concordia, people take a lot of pride in certain buildings, like buildings they have an affinity for, buildings they really enjoyed living in, and so I think it totally makes sense when a student is bummed out that they can’t live there that year.”
Many music students are upset that the dorm connected to Hvidsten will not be available. “It’s really convenient having the dorm right there for music students, or anyone who’s just involved in music. It also creates a nice community with music majors who live in the building,” said Viva Graff, a resident assistant of Hoyum.
ResLife staffing will also be affected by the change. Closing Hoyum will take the positions of five resident assistants, one associate resident assistant, one director’s assistant and one hall director.
“Each dorm has a sister dorm, like Hallet and Erickson, Fjelstad and Park (Region), Livedalen and Hoyum. It’ll be weird next year because we do joint rounds on the weekend and we do activities together, so it will be weird with Livedalen being on its own,” Graff said.
While there is no reopening date set for Hoyum, it is the plan for it to reopen at a future date. Truelove envisions a new future for the hall. “Even though it is sad that we have a building closing, my hope is that in the future when Hoyum reopens and when this campus does see Brown renovated and Hoyum reopening, that Hoyum can have a new identity,” Truelove said.
With the renovation of Brown, Truelove predicts that Hoyum may see a more diverse mix of students. “I see it as an immense opportunity to create a different community and different vibe on campus, so I’m really excited to see what Hoyum gets to be in the future,” Truelove said.
Sustainability Coordinator Gabrielle Lommel said that the EcoHouse will also be closing this year to “decrease its campus footprint and conserve costs.” To continue its mission, the college will be “shifting the sustainability programming to the main campus.”