In theory, Living/Learning Communities (LLC) are a great idea. A group of dedicated and passionate students takes a common interest and tries to open it up to the campus as a whole. Students will have the opportunity to explore in-depth a common interest and educate the campus on a specific learning initiative.
Of course, we have no idea how LLCs are going to work out, as it’s only the first year of the program next year. It’s commendable that office of Residential Education Housing (ResEd) is trying to branch out and implement new programs.
However, is the College really suited for something like this? First of all, we have really limited housing as it is. Juniors and seniors are kicked off campus every year because they don’t have a place in the lottery.
Now, sophomores, who already get guaranteed housing, will have the opportunity to live in the Townhouses Complex or Eickhoff Hall, depending on the specific needs of their LLC. Students stress out about housing months in advance and join certain organizations solely for the purpose of getting guaranteed housing as an upperclassman; this may just be seen as an opportunity to get guaranteed housing.
Also, the College has over 100 extracurricular activities. Any kind of hobby or common interest students may have could probably be explored in one of our many extracurricular organizations.
For example, most people who are really passionate about sustainability, one of the ideas that have been discussed, are probably members of Water Watch or the Progressive Student Alliance and, chances are, already know each other anyway. Will housing them together really invite the rest of the campus to get involved or just isolate them?
Although students signing up for the lottery will have the opportunity to join in on an LLC, will anyone really feel comfortable living with people they don’t know and committing to time-consuming programming requirements because of a common interest?
Some schools, such as Rutgers University, have made this type of housing work. Demarest, the special interest housing dorm at Rutgers, has almost 10 different special interest sections and is looking to expand. Students continue to sign up for these every year and they host programs and events.
At a school like Rutgers, however, this makes sense. Rutgers is huge and extremely diverse; it would be easy for people to get lost in the crowd there.
With special interest housing in place, Rutgers students can connect with people with a common interest that might be otherwise hard to find in such an overwhelming atmosphere.
Even at Rutgers, though, there is a slight negative stigma associated with that dorm.
LLCs may be a huge improvement to ResEd; after all, most people become friends freshman year with their floormates, who are housed according to their First Seminar Program (FSP) class.
In theory, housing students freshman year by common interest works out for many students. However, most people don’t get their first FSP choice.
We’ll never know how LLC housing will pan out until we try it, but it seems that it would hurt more than help if it was implemented next year.