Riggs Hall reopens as living, learning community

Riggs roomThe first thing most people will notice about SUNY Oswego’s Riggs Hall, reopening this fall after large-scale renovations, is how different the residence hall looks inside and out.

But, according to its residence director, Trenton Barry, what’s most notable is the community constructed by its residents.

“As an Oswego student, you spend 80 percent of your time in a residence hall,” Barry explained. “It should be a learning place, not just a place to eat and sleep.”

The $13 million in renovations included extensive rehabilitation and upgrades of the building, including the addition of gabled roofing to resemble neighboring Johnson Hall. Riggs also has an interior connection to Lakeside Dining Hall, also reopening this fall after around $7 million of renovations and improvements.

For Barry, a major appeal of Riggs was the opportunity to create new programs—such as the Opportunities for Professional Achievement and Leadership series, with sessions twice a week on topics ranging from cooking healthy meals to community involvement to cell phone etiquette.

Among its 200 residents, Riggs houses two living and learning communities—biology/biochemistry and urban life/urban schools—where students live in the same residence halls, take a few courses together and interact outside of classes.

“Some of us are in three of the same classes, and it’s nice to know at least one person in my classes,” said Annie Hirschkorn, a freshman biochemistry major, member of the biology/biochemistry community and women’s ice hockey recruit from North Carolina. “Also, it’s nice and quiet. I can get my studying done here. I really like it a lot.”

Another popular feature, especially with the hot spell at the end of August welcoming students, was the new air-conditioning system in Riggs Hall.

“We have friends in other halls, and they’re talking about how hot it is in their rooms, but we’re really comfortable,” said Breanna Dees, a freshman communication major from West Berne.

“It’s really nice living where you can control the room temperature,” said junior psychology major Jessica Leslie of Utica, who lives with her twin sister Amanda.

“We’re right on the lake and connected to Lakeside, which is new, too,” added Amanda, an education major.

Jessica also liked that it was near Lee Hall, where the twins play basketball, while Amanda approved of how clean the residence hall is.

Amenities include a basement lounge with a 48-inch plasma TV, study rooms in every wing, a computer center and recreational activities including a pool table and ping-pong table.

“I think that every room is amazing, and I like that the main lounge has a fireplace in it,” said Pat Vescio, a freshman math education major from Solvay.

“Everything is very new and attractive,” said Roy Monselise, a freshman biology major from Westchester. “I was impressed by how nice everyone is. It feels like a small community.”

Barry said the Riggs philosophy involves empowering students and making them all responsible to keep it a good community. “People are picking up trash that isn’t even theirs,” he noted. “So far, everyone has been tremendous.”

- END -

PHOTO CAPTION: Riggs digs—SUNY Oswego students Breanna Dees (left), a freshman communication major from East Berne, and Annie Hirschkorn, a freshman biochemistry major from North Carolina, spend some time in their room in recently renovated Riggs Hall.

(Posted: Sep 05, 2007)