Knock, knock

Story by Thom Fountain

After a few knocks, freshman Cory Yohnke opened his door on the fourth floor of Horan Hall. There to greet him was Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Beth Hellwig and the Director of McIntyre Library John Politz, both volunteers for the first Eau Cares House Calls program.

“At first I thought it was a little forced,” Yohnke said. “But after talking to them, they were really nice people and it seemed like they were very sincere in their questions and that they generally did want to know the students more.”

Eau Cares House Calls, initiated by Hellwig and Debi Levin-Stankevich, sent more than 40 faculty and staff members to four residence halls Monday night where they met with students and heard their concerns about the university. Questions they asked ranged from where they were from to how alcohol affects their experiences in the residence halls.

Hellwig said the program was aimed at new students to help them adapt to the campus, but also was nice for faculty and staff to see student life first-hand.

“I love college students,” Hellwig said. “Anytime I get a chance to visit with students, that gives me a great deal of pleasure.”

Hellwig also said the program hoped to show students that the faculty and staff care about them.

“It really is about showing students that we care enough to spend an evening of our personal time to be with them and see how they live and just check in.”

Sophomore Ben Streeter, the vice-president of Horan Hall Council, said he thought the program was a great idea and was good for students who may be too shy to voice concerns elsewhere. He talked to Hellwig and Politz about the meal plans and Sodexo when they came by his room.

“Because I’m participating in a few (organizations), I can usually track down the people to say something to,” he said. “But for those who maybe have some suggestions this is a good opportunity and hopefully they’re heard.”

When the groups reconnected after talking to students, they discussed ways to improve on the program in the future and said they all had very positive experiences.

Politz, who volunteered to attend, said the personable experience of Eau Cares House Calls was reminiscent of a smaller liberal arts college and that it could happen at a larger school like Eau Claire was impressive.

“I think it’s real important to make (Eau Claire) a real comfortable place,” Politz said. “The nice thing is it keeps a real hands-on approach.”

Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich, who visited Katherine Thomas Hall, said he was pleased with Eau Cares House Calls and that it was fun to participate.

“We have a lot of ways for students to connect on this campus, but sometimes there are students who don’t connect or somehow can’t,” he said. “So you want to make sure you reach out and say ‘Is there anything we can do to help that?'”