By: Kraig Pierce
The Dane G. Hansen Scholarship Hall is a recent addition to the campus of Fort Hays State University. The residence hall offers students who are interested in entrepreneurship a place to reside and learn their craft with students with similar interests.
Since its opening in the Fall of 2016, there have been a large number of students who have shown interest in residing in Hansen Hall. In order to reside in Hansen Hall, undergraduate students must be taking at least 12 credit hours, they must be sophomores or older, and must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above. Along with these requirements, students must also effectively attend the functions, workshops, and activities held at Hansen Hall.
Recently there have been a number of students who have communicated with Tiger Media Network (TMN) staff, expressing problems that they encountered while residing at Hansen Hall. Due to the impact that speaking to the media could possibly have on their professional and/or scholastic future, the students asked that they are kept anonymous.
All of the students that TMN has been in contact with shared similar issues that they were having with the hall, but one of the more prominent issues was with guarantees that were not met. The students claimed that the administration of Hansen Hall guaranteed the students that they would save a substantial amount of money if they moved out of the residence halls that they were currently living in and moved into Hansen Hall instead. Students claim that the administrators also made claims of a food plan that would be provided to students who resided there, as well. This was not the case for the students. Sources told us that they were told that they would be saving around $5000 a semester by living in Hansen Hall, but one of them is now “$1500 in the hole.” Another student told us, “In high school when you hear ‘Hansen Scholarship’, it means that you have been accepted into a hall filled with opportunities and lots of savings. We were told that we should save around $5,000 dollars. That was not true. I saved $300 dollars for my room last semester- that’s a lot less than $5,000. On the website, it says something about ‘meal plan provided’, issue implying that the meal plan would be paid for by the hall which would help save a large amount of money.”
The students ran into even more fees when it came to the required activities that they were to attend. In November, from November 15th to the 17th, the College of Business and Entrepreneurship hosted their first “Startup Weekend.” This event was intended to get students to engage with each other, talk about business ideas, and come up with plans to bring their dreams to light. Our sources told us that, “We had to work the event and pay $70 for it.” When the students raised their concerns about the surprise expenses with the administration, “the cost magically lowered from $70 to $15.” Another student told us that, “After expressing the issue of not having that kind of money he (Henry Schwaller, Director of Entrepreneurship), all of the sudden, found a way to make the program $15 dollars. But even then you are paying for a program that you are expected to work for. You are paying to work. That’s doesn’t make any sense.”
Students also claim that many of the events that were scheduled by the administration of Hansen Hall were a bit of a mess, either being held significantly later than they were scheduled to be, or not happening at all. A student told us that, “There were a number of meetings that we were supposed to have that just never happened. There was one meeting that we were supposed to have that nobody showed up for, including the speaker.” When TMN staff asked the students how administration communicates with residents of Hansen Hall, they told us that, “We use a messaging app to communicate with administration, but it is a real mess. It is unorganized and it’s hard to find any specific information.” Not only were we told about the scheduling and communication prior to the meetings and events, the students also told us what they thought about some of the events. In regards to the previously mentioned “Start-Up Weekend”, a student told us that “The Start-Up Weekend was just a way for some of the administration to steal business ideas. It was a joke. We paid them to take our ideas”
Finances and events were not the issues that the students have with Hansen Hall. A source told us that one of their main issues was with the administrators themselves. Henry Schwaller, who is Director, Center for Entrepreneurship, was very active when the hall first opened up, according to our sources, but was barely present after a couple of weeks. One student claims that Schwaller told them that, “If you (the student) do not have an entrepreneurial mindset, you will not make it in this world.” This is a troubling thing to be told, as a student and as a person. This student also claims that they were called a “liar” and an “instigator” by the administration. TMN reached out to Mr. Schwaller for clarity on the topic, but he declined to comment. The student went on to say, “overall it just isn’t doing what it’s intended for and I don’t think the people who have donated thousands of dollars in order to start up the program would be happy with how things are being run.”
TMN looked further into the issues that the students were having and had an interview with the Dean of the Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship (RCOBE), Dr. Mark Bannister. Dr. Bannister, who was one of the most prominent figures in Hansen Hall’s founding, was able to shed some light on the topic. “In late August, then President Martin removed the Center for Entrepreneurship and Hansen Hall from the College of Business and Entrepreneurship. From that point in time, Henry Schwaller, Director, Center for Entrepreneurship and the extracurricular entrepreneurship activities have reported to Provost Graham Glynn. The academic entrepreneurship activities included faculty, classes, certificates, concentrations and minor remain within the Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship. The Fort Hays State University Small Business Development Center and the FHSU Management Development Center also remain in the RCOBE.”
TMN met with Provost Glynn to get more information on Hansen Hall and the Center for Entrepreneurship’s departure from the Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship, as well as some clarity on the student’s issues with Hansen Hall itself.
In the interview, Glynn told us that the departure was implemented because of, “Conflict between the Manager (Schwaller) and the Dean (Bannister).” He went on to elaborate on the conflict, stating that, “Sometimes you just get people who cannot work together, so you have to separate them.”
In regards to the student’s expectations of saving money, Glynn told TMN that “Every student living in the hall are being supplemented by the Hansen Foundation, so they are saving money either way. Could we have been more emphatic and clear on the website in regards to meals not being included? It does not say that meals are included on the website, but if someone was reading it in a very optimistic way, they could jump to that conclusion.”
This is what TMN was able find out for the students that came to us with their concerns about Hansen Hall. We would like to thank our sources for having the courage to come to us with this information and would like to encourage others to do the same if they have concerns about anything on campus.