With three residence halls, Southwestern Michigan College’s Dowagiac campus is home to 390 students who count on an array of activities for a total college life experience.
There are events on-campus and off, including academic speakers, to enrich students’ social, cultural and academic experience while pursuing two-year degrees and certificates, four-year degrees with partners Ferris State University and Bethel College, or a Michigan State University certificate.
With residence halls came an expanded Student Activity Center, the hub for recreation, fitness and student-life activities.
The center offers abundant opportunities for relaxation, making new friends and refreshment with a latte or smoothie in Zollar Café.
There are a fully-equipped fitness center, gymnasium, racquetball courts, a rock climbing wall, resistance pools, an Event Theatre with a theatre-size screen, a game room complete with consoles and the latest titles, pool, ping pong and foosball tables, a student lounge with a flat-screen TV, an outdoor patio, group fitness classes such as yoga and Zumba, casino nights, dances and fun events, such as Operation Glow — an ultraviolet light show flinging confetti and foam through the air — a murder mystery dinner, live alligators, Lego builds and mentalist Chris Jones.
An ever-evolving group of autonomous student organizations change year to year based on interest.
New in 2014 was Sisterhood, an African American women’s group which fosters self-image, superior academic effort and community service.
The college supports student groups to foster out-of-classroom development.
This outlet for students, staff and faculty to share interests leads to organizing off-campus enrichment excursions such as trips to ArtPrize in Grand Rapids and Springfield, Ill., the land of Lincoln.
Rock climbers tackled Muir Valley, Red River Gorge, Ky., the week after graduation with President Dr. David M. Mathews.
Bringing students together informally with staff and faculty outside the classroom spurs experiential learning while placing less emphasis on ongoing weekly meetings and the officer structure of traditional clubs.
SMC students found themselves on Broadway with Tony-winning “Parade” composer Jason Robert Brown and sharing the Silver Creek Event Center stage at Four Winds New Buffalo with one of the highest-selling artists of all time, Kenny Rogers.
After forming an Environmental Research Group, eight STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students presented water purification research at the 249th American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in Denver, where they heard presentations by two Nobel laureates.
Other STEM students toured a nuclear plant.
Criminal justice students, mentored by Cass County law enforcement professionals, swept SkillsUSA’s State Leadership and Skills Conference in Grand Rapids, with four advancing to the national competition in June in Louisville.
George Field’s Pop Culture class assembled a time capsule to be placed in the new Dr. William P.D. O’Leary Science Building for SMC’s 100th anniversary in 2064.
The digital Southwester offers students an outlet to express themselves through writing and photography.
Heather Day’s speech students’ voices are heard each semester at the popular Power of the Storyteller.
Students can explore performing in SMC bands, choir and theatre or develop their visual art skills in ceramics, photography and painting.
The theatre program produces major performances each semester, most recently Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.”
Auditions are open to anyone, regardless of major.
A free academic lecture series open to all students brought world-renowned rock climber Arno Ilgner, national community college advocate Isa Adney, University of Michigan television scholar Dr. Amanda Lotz, former Michigan lawmaker Cameron Brown on Abraham Lincoln’s relevance 150 years after his assassination, Miss Indiana USA Mekayla Diehl, Claudia Allen of Georgetown University on Dr. Martin Luther King and Canadian American visual artist Louie Gong of Seattle.
Each semester there is a Campus Bash filled with fun activities such as bubble soccer and a stunt jump, food and music.
To make the most of the 240-acre Dowagiac campus’s six miles of wooded trails, SMC hosts a fall Zombie Run, July 25’s Steve’s Run and fall’s Dirty Bird mud run.
Rentable mountain bikes and cross-country skis also provide a great way to tour the trails.
An intramural sports program offers football (including the Snow Bowl during Winterfest), soccer, softball, volleyball, basketball and Ultimate Frisbee.
Residence halls feature fully-furnished, private, two- and four-bedroom suites with refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers and microwaves.
Students need only bring bedding and kitchen utensils.
“Nationally, students who live in residence housing typically succeed in college at a higher rate than their commuting counterparts,” President Mathews said. “On-campus student housing has the potential to advance our core mission and make our students even more successful.”
Private individual bedrooms each have a key pad entry system for additional privacy.
Residence halls have on-site laundry facilities, a commons and study area on each floor, plus The Backyard for recreation and cookouts at the fire pit.
“We’ve taken steps to ensure students living on campus feel safe and secure,” Mathews said. “Each student housing unit has a secure parking lot accessible only by a key card.
“Students use a key card for entry into the building, as well as into their individual suite and their private bedroom. In addition, there is a reception area where visitors must check in. There also is an on-site housing manager available 24/7 and a residential advisor on each floor.”