After receiving positive responses from students who participated in the program this year, Knox is moving ahead with expanding the presence of Living Learning Communities (LLC) in six suites, taking up a whole wing of Post Hall.
“Students there felt really comfortable with each other, they felt really connected to Knox … I think we’ll certainly have people who will be interested and there will be no problems with filling those six [freshmen] suites,” Associate Dean of Students Craig Southern said.
The LLC program combines the residential and academic experience by having freshman in the same preceptorial class live in a suite together. Southern stated that he met regularly with Vice President for Student Development Anne Ehrlich to coordinate programing for the communities.
“The goal is for that connection between the academic and non-academic side,” Southern said.
Freshman Madison Ulrich, who signed up to be in an LLC specifically to be in the Travel Freshman Preceptorial (FP) course it was attached to, was happy with the relationships it has allowed her to build.
“I think I would do it again too, because I really appreciate how I know my suitemates a lot more … I’m really big on this idea of knowing the people you live with and the people you’re going to be spending time with,” said Ulrich.
Freshman Shae Salts joined her LLC with the hope it would make it easier to make friends on campus. She believed that the LLC experience genuinely created a sense of community.
“We all worked together on homework and got to know each other better … I think we had much more lively discussions in our FP class because we did know each other outside of class as well,” Salts said.
Ulrich noted that one damper on the experience was the amount of students who moved out of her suite. She estimated that about six students in the suite either transferred to another college or moved elsewhere on campus.
“That’s odd, or at least awkward … they’re still technically in the LLC, those who have moved to other parts of campus, so when we have events together they still come,” said Ulrich.
Ulrich and Salts both noted some disorganization in the planning of events for the suites, with the program not remaining very active in the aftermath of Fall term.
“In the end, it’s usually like what can we do quickest … usually we don’t find out what we’re doing until the date is really close at hand,” said Ulrich.
Salts specifically mentioned a discussed suite trip to Chicago that never materialized, as well as her suite’s FP professor, Visiting Assistant Professor of English Katya Reno, going on a winter term sabbatical limiting the continuation of the program. However, she noted her belief that these issues will be worked out for next year’s program.
“I know they’re revamping the programing and making it more organized for next year, which will make the LLCs even better … by expanding the program and putting more effort into it I think it’ll turn into a really good program,” she said.
Ulrich also clarified that she did not necessarily blame the faculty involved for the issues with planning events.
“I think it has a lot to do with administration and getting things cleared … I’m sure it’s a difficult process to do,” she sad.
The school will also further experiment with the program by having one of the suites not be part of a FP course, but rather with an alternate first-year class. Southern stated that as they continued testing and expanding the program, it was conceivable that at some point in the future the school could completely convert the freshman living experience.
“There are colleges where all their first years have this first year experience … we’ll see if that’s the right thing for Knox or if it’s not. That’s certainly a possibility,” said Southern.
Salts and Ulrich both stated they would recommend the program to students entering Knox this fall. Salts will remain involved with the program by being a Teaching Assistant (TA) for one of next year’s LLC-associated FP courses. She stated she hoped to follow the example of her TA this year, who she found to be a valuable resource.
“They always have their door open, they’re very vocal about getting involved with us and making sure we have the resources we need … I will be available to help them with their homework, with their personal problems, with adjusting to life at Knox, all of the above,” Salts said.