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17th Avenue LLCs create community and connection beyond classroom

The LLCs provide students from a variety of backgrounds a place to connect and create community.
The 17th Avenue Residence Hall as seen on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017.
Image by Alex Tuthill-Preus

The 17th Avenue Residence Hall as seen on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017.

Many Living Learning Communities (LLCs) exist in the University of Minnesota’s residence halls and allow students who share similar academic interests to connect, but the variety of LLCs in the 17th Avenue Residence Hall this semester creates a unique living environment.

In 17th, there are four different LLCs: the Sorority Unity House, the Chinese Language and Culture House, ROTC and the Women’s Business Network.

Kristie Feist, assistant director for Housing and Residential Life at the University, said the goal of LLCs is to connect students with others who share similar interests and academic goals. There are currently over 30 LLCs across campus, according to Feist.

“LLCs started as a way for faculty and other staff to engage with students outside of the classroom,” Feist said. “They created more informal spaces that could create stronger connections for students and take what they were learning inside the classroom and apply it to the world.”

Sorority Unity House

The Sorority Unity House is partnered with the Office for Fraternity & Sorority Life and was created to provide additional resources to women who are going through the recruitment process. Any student who is considering going through the sorority recruitment process can live in the Sorority Unity House, according to Feist.

“Being in a shared community where you can come back after events and all of the things you have to do all day and night, forms a sense of camaraderie among the students to go through that process together,” Feist said.

In the past, Feist said the Sorority Unity House has hosted socials and different connection events.

“Being able to connect and share the experience of going through recruitment with other women and being new members of sororities, I can imagine, is extremely supportive,” Feist said.

Chinese Language and Culture House

The Chinese Language and Culture House LLC was established in 2017, said Yao Tu, the associate director of the Chinese Flagship Program.

“The goal for this LLC is to foster a cross-cultural community of Chinese learners and also native speakers of Chinese,” Tu said. “We try to match international students from China with Chinese learners at the U of M.”

According to Tu, this process allows the students to learn the language and culture from each other.

“For international students, having someone who can speak their own language, help them navigate campus and learn more about Minnesota is really helpful,” Tu said.

Tu added that the location of 17th is convenient for students who live in the LLC since it is across the street from the China Center and a five-minute walk from Folwell Hall, where the Chinese Flagship Program department is located.

Some events the Chinese Language and Culture House has hosted include karaoke and boba tea events, which are provided by the Chinese Flagship Program, Tu said.


The ROTC LLC offers students who are registered for one of the ROTC programs or are interested in military leadership a community of like-minded individuals who have a common passion for service, according to the ROTC LLC’s website.

The LLC provides students with on-site advising, a designated meeting room, study groups, tutoring and mentoring by upper-class ROTC cadets and midshipmen.

Women’s Business Network

The Women’s Business Network is a space for women to connect and build community over shared classes and their interests in becoming successful businesswomen in the future, according to Caroline Quinn, a student life and career coach at the Carlson School of Management.

“The Women’s Business Network LLC’s goal is to build community together around being women either in business majors or just interested in business,” Quinn said.

The students in 17th host “network nights” where they have snacks and discuss questions about what it is like to be a woman in business, according to Quinn.

Some of the topics discussed include the gender pay gap, dynamics in the boardroom or what it is like to be a woman in a group project in a male-dominated field, Quinn added.

“I’ve heard from the girls that they just enjoy each other and having community together and being able to talk with women with the same interests as them,” Quinn said.

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