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LLCs wrap up first semester

BY LILY ABROMEIT | DECEMBER 10, 2013 5:00 AM

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In an effort to support students living in dorms, the University of Iowa implemented a required Living-Learning Community program last year, something officials said will, hopefully, provide insight into on-campus life.

“With one semester under our belt, we are starting to figure out what does and doesn’t work for our student staff and also for our professional staff,” said Brooke Bernard, a UI assistant director of residence education.

Although the numbers have not yet been calculated, Bernard said she believed earlier survey responses would provide some insight.

According to a survey administered at the beginning of the year during move-in, 78 percent of students said they planned to be an active participant of their Living-Learning Community, 91 percent hoped to meet people with similar interests, and 88 percent expected their involvement in Living-Learning Communities to improve their “overall satisfaction” at the UI.

These numbers reflect what UI Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin said he hoped would be the result of the program.

“I hope to see a good level of engagement on the parts of members in [the communities] and a greater sense of belonging to the university,” he said.

Bernard said these initial numbers reflect what she hopes to see in future survey responses, because for the most part, the program has accomplished most of the targeted goals, which include involvement, engagement, and connections made through the communities.

“It’s hard when you start a large-scale program to know how things will evolve, but the students have really [adapted],” she said.

Rocklin, although he has not reviewed any solid numbers, said he believed the program will inevitably be a success.

“We have every reason, based on research, for Living-Learning Communities to increase success, including retention from the first to the asecond year and graduation,” Rocklin said.

UI senior Alizabeth Davis, a resident assistant for the Iowa Writers Living-Learning Community, said she has noticed increased involvement by the students in her hall.

“It definitely encouraged them to get involved in the writing community,” she said. “They get to know a lot of other people … which is obviously important in a writing community.”

UI freshman Jackie Wedell, who is in the Explore. Dream. Discover. Experience. Living-Learning Community, said it has not provided as many opportunities as she had expected. It was helpful at the beginning of the year, she said, but now she sees it as merely a good idea and not so much of a helpful tool.

“It seems like a good idea, [and] at least it seems like it has good intentions,” she said.

UI sophomore Dominick Williams, a member of Community 234, said he is not very involved in his community, but he thinks students can take advantage of the program to achieve better results.

“Take it seriously, utilize it, [and] it’s there if you need it,” he said.

Bernard said the dialogue between the university and incoming students has broadened as families become more informed about the program and process.

However, as of now, Bernard said no immediate changes are planned.

“If we add [anything] … it will be for 2015, and I think we’ll probably be entering those discussions this spring,” she said.


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