ResEd to offer academic-themed housing opportunities next year

Students will have the opportunity during the 2008-2009 school year to live in the office of Residential Education and Housing’s (ResEd) newly implemented Living/Learning Communities (LLC), which means groups of students can apply to be housed together based on a common academic theme they wish to explore.

According to Tina Tormey, ResEd assistant director, the theme can be based on a class or academic pursuit. Some examples include vegan/vegetarian housing, a global studies LLC and an LLC that will focus on sustainability and environmental concerns.

LLCs will include learning initiatives; members of each LLC will be required to host programs that explore their specific academic initiative and open up discussion for the whole campus.

Travers Community Advisor Cassandra Hale said she is definitely interested in looking at an LLC for next year.

“I’m so psyched about the LLC housing option for next year. I’m hoping to take on a ResEd position connected to one of the communities,” Hale said. “I think what I’m most interested in is a vegan/vegetarian community. However I’d also be interested in anything along the lines of feminism, sustainability or gender-blind communities.”

In order to participate in an LLC, students must fill out a proposal which is due Dec. 7.

In the proposal, the students must suggest what location they would like to be housed in. Tormey said depending on the proposal, students may wish to be housed in a certain area. A vegan/vegetarian LLC, for example, would need to be housed in an area with a kitchen for campus-wide programs involving food.

A global studies LLC might need to be housed in a building with break housing, since international students might participate and need to be housed over breaks.

Hale said many of her residents are interested in proposing LLCs. She said it will not only benefit individual students but the campus as a whole.

“It’s a lot easier to educate and spread the word about different interests and lifestyles when you’re not going it alone,” Hale said. “When you have a community with similar beliefs you have a better chance at making your voice heard on campus and making your college experience better for you and by opening other people’s minds to what they might not have known before.”

Proposals must also include the name of an adviser, a goal statement and how much funding is required. Funding will be provided by ResEd.

Tormey said not all proposals will be granted because next year will be the pilot year for the program. She said she might meet with students after the proposals are submitted to clarify their proposals.

“We want to fine tune things and work with a smaller group,” she said. “Students have never had the opportunity to do anything like this before.”

Tormey said the proposals will probably be written by eight to 25 students, but that the LLCs will be open during the housing lottery for other students as well.

The process of implementing the LLCs will begin the lottery process; students who apply for specific housing must be housed first. Other students, however, will be allowed to join the community during the lottery process as long as they are willing to commit to the initiatives and goals of the LLC.

She said LLCs are similar to housing freshman year, when students are housed by their First Seminar Progam (FSP). LLCs carry on the idea of housing students according to similar interests.

Other schools have considered ethnic housing in the past; Tormey said this would work if students had a goal statement and were able to show how their goals would be met.

“It has to be a community that’s opened up to anyone,” she said.

According to Tormey, the idea of themed housing has been discussed at the College for a few years.

Other New Jersey schools that have themed housing include Monmouth University, which offers 24-hour quiet floors, substance free floors and leadership floors. Rutgers University offers “special-interest” housing, which includes sections focused on creative writing and literary theory, music appreciation, performing arts, visual arts, sex, sexuality and gender, philosophy and religion and spirituality.

Tormey said the program has two main goals.

“Students focus more on something they want to learn about,” she said. “And it helps them share that with their peers.”