Success of dorm communities varies

by Amber Schadewald

Residence hall roommates who share interests and come from similar backgrounds might seem like a lucky coincidence, but the goal of the University’s living and learning communities is to make it a priority.

There are 22 living and learning communities available on campus, including concentrations in health, science, language and design, each with the goal of helping first-year students make friends and focus their education.

While some programs continue to expand and excel, others are seeing decreasing enrollment and a lack of organization.

The University saw an increase of American Indian first-year students, to a total of 64, but the enrollment in the American Indian Cultural House fell to five members, said Jillian Rowan, Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence academic programming coordinator.

Ten members enrolled the first year and the second year had 13, Rowan said. This is the third year of the community.

The American Indian Cultural House is aimed at students interested in learning about American Indian culture. The students take an introductory American Indian history course together and attend weekly cultural events.

Students are faced with many educational choices, which have caused a decrease in participants, Rowan said.

“If students are on a pre-med track, they can choose to be in a living and learning community that concentrates on academics,” she said.

“It was a nice way to get into a better dorm,” Rosenwald said of being housed in Sanford Hall. They said the Scandinavian House will have some type of meeting in the near future.

Mannix Clark, associate director of housing, said living and learning communities are supposed to tie together the learning from inside the classroom with what happens after class is out. Some groups, he said, are just more active than others.

He said that because these groups are made up of first-year students, each year is different and they are trying to find more past participants who are willing to become peer mentors for the groups to bridge the gap between years.

The “second generation of Casa Sol,” a term Paskewitz said they call themselves, has events planned for the school year. Izaguirre said he’s excited to learn about his Latino identity and make more of a cultural connection.

“I heart Casa Sol,” Izaguirre said.