Special interest communities come to upperclassmen

By Leeza Earl

Living Learning Communities are no longer limited to freshmen housing. Residential Life will pilot “Special Interest Communities” in San Buenaventura and the Alcala Vista Apartments for the 2013-2014 academic year. San Buenaventura will house the Honors SIC, while the Vistas will house Sustainability and University Ministry.

Patrick Marino, the residential life associate director for first year areas, stated that the upper-class Special Interest Communities are very similar to the freshman Living Learning Communities. However, they have a significant difference. Unlike the first year areas, the Special Interest Communities will not have a preceptorial class.

These communities were created to continue the living learning component in upper-class areas.

With the exception of the Honors Community, which is limited to residents in the Honors Program, Special Interest Communities will have no prerequisites to join. These communities will offer upperclassmen a chance to continue community development. They will also have access to theme-driven programming.

Freshman Corrie Milster, a first year student in the Sustainability LLC, was excited to hear about the new Special Interest Communities.

“I love the theme based programs in LLCs,” Milster said. “I think the programs are what made me the well-rounded student I am today and allowed me to make the connections I have now. I would love to continue my living learning experience at USD upper-class areas.”

Though she does not have the opportunity of living in an SIC this year, sophomore Danielle DiVittorio also praised the new program.

“Residential life made a great choice with the LLCs in first year areas,” DiVittorio said. “Being in the Sustainability LLC my freshman year allowed me to live with people that had the same common interest as me, which led to great higher thinking discussions.”

Residential life wants to continue the success into the upper-class areas. They said that the SICs will allow residents to live with students of similar interests, continuing the community-building of LLCs. They also believe that the SICs will also increase retention for on-campus housing, while incorporating programming to complement the themes of each SIC.

“Being in upper-class housing, I think it would be amazing to have programming geared to a theme such as Sustainability, especially for students who are in similar majors,” sophomore environmental studies major Ava Izdepski said.

There is no set size for each community. Therefore, this allows the students’ interest to drive the demand, and Residential Life will be able to gauge how popular the new SICs become.

Junior Sanaz Azemoon has high hopes for the SIC program.

“I have seen programs similar to the new Special Interest Communities at other universities and they were very successful,” Azemoon said. “I think this will be a great option for upper-class residents.”
Although the new plan for SICs has a lot of student support, not everyone agrees that the program is necessary. Junior Laura McKniff thinks that the new SIC program is unnecessary, since the bonds in the freshman LLCs would already been have created by the end of the year. “The LLCʼs were created to build community in first year areas and gain retention.” Mckniff said. “The retention and community has been created, therefore I think the Special Interest Communities should not be brought to the upper-class areas.”

Residential life is still in the process of determining future residence hall plans regarding the Special Interest Communities.

Housing signup begin Feb. 4 to select a Special Interest Community for the 2013-2014 academic year.