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Two of the largest LLCs may be too large

BY DANIEL SEIDL | SEPTEMBER 03, 2013 5:00 AM

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Requiring all students living on campus to be a part of a living-learning community is supposed to foster strong relationships among students with similar interests, but because some of these communities at the University of Iowa have more than 1000 members, officials recognize this could be a challenge.

The two largest living-learning communities on campus are First Year Hawks, for first-year students and Community 234, for returning students.

Both number approximately 1,300 members.

First Year Hawks doesn’t serve a particular interest like many of the other living-learning communities, so it is good for students who haven’t found their calling yet, said Brooke Bernard, UI assistant director of residence education.

This is one of the reasons that the particular community is so popular, she said.

“Many of our older students enjoy being so close to campus and having the convenience of residence hall amenities,” said Kaley Rigdon, the programmer for Community 234, in an email. “So Community 234 is a great option for students seeking a convenient, fun, and academic supportive community that is set aside specifically for upperclassmen.”

Because these living-learning communities are so much larger than the smaller ones on campus, their events will have more of a large-scale focus.

“The majority of our programs will focus on building community,” Rigdon said in the email. 

“Hosting events for so many students may be difficult when it comes to finding space and accommodating students on both sides of campus.”  

Bernard said another challenge to having so many students in some of the living-learning communities will be encouraging student involvement.

“It’s going to be a challenge to get students in the larger living-learning communities involved,” said Bernard. “[But] people will be able to engage as much as they want to.”

Rigdon said the UI has high hopes for smaller living-learning communities.

“Many of our smaller communities will have the opportunity to really get to know their programmer on a personal basis,” she said in an email.

Some students who participated in living-learning communities before they were required said they had a positive experience and agree that communities do help students build friendships and connections on campus.

“I was able to go right next door [to get help from friends in the same classes as me] any time of the day,” said UI sophomore Jessica Castleman who lived in the Honors living-learning community. “It was nice to be able to get through the hard classes together.”

UI sophomore Matt Ventling also lived in the Honors community and said he too had a positive experience.

“The atmosphere there in Daum for getting work done was good,” Ventling said.

One student living in Community 234 this year said she is encouraged by the fact that her community is large and diverse.

“There are a lot of different types of people,” said UI junior Katelyn Boeshart. “[Hopefully the events will] mix the practical and the fun together.”

Tom Rocklin, UI vice president for Student Life, said he expects despite some of the communities being so large, students will gain positive experiences and benefit from the living environments they have chosen.

“We expect students to be more engaged in campus life, which will help them meet their academic and other goals in college,” he said in an email. “I am confident that students in each of the LLCs will have great experiences.”


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