RLCs merge extracurricular study, dorm life

Scott Murphy, News Editor

For the last six years, the Office of Residential Life and Education has provided students with the opportunity to partake in Residential Learning Communities with a group of either four or eight roommates in order to pursue a year-long extra-curricular study in an area of mutual interest.

RLCs are allowed to pursue any topic that interests them at their own pace within a shared residential environment.

In addition to studying a particular topic, RLCs are encouraged to facilitate programs or projects that share what they have learned with the rest of Campus.

In order to receive approval for an RLC, interested groups of students must fill out an application that includes a roster of four or eight students, a mission statement, both an outline of research material and an educational design for the subject that the RLC will be studying and a statement of involvement from a faculty member.

The deadline for 2015-2016 RLC applications is Friday, February 27 at 4 PM.

Following this, ten-minute presentations will be delivered by potential RLC groups to an RLC Selection Committee during the weeks after Spring Break before the housing selection process.

Susan Weintraub, Director of Residential Life and Education, explained that the Res. Life Office tries not to turn an RLC away and attempts to fund at least three per year.

When an RLC receives approval, they are allotted funding from the Res. Life Office and given preferential housing selection in order to ensure that they receive a shared room or cluster of rooms that allows all members to live and learn together.

This has typically designated quads in Hillary Hall and Father Bernard & Saint Benedict Courts as the typical locations for RLCs.

The Living Learning Commons became another housing option this current academic year, particularly due to the classroom amenities included in the dorm.

Additionally, the LLC’s gendered wings has allowed for potential RLCs that take place here to include both male and female students.

Michael Murphy, Area Coordinator for both the LLC and Brady Hall, shared that “Having classes in the LLC helps to reinforce the M.O. of RLCs.”

Special accommodations are made for RLCs with members that wish to live with non-members of their group or members that want to participate in an RLC together without having to live with one-another.

Relatedly, Weintraub revealed that Professor Peter Josephson of the Politics Department will be teaching a class (entitled “The Problem of Liberty”) during the fall 2015 semester that necessitates residency in the LLC.

There is no class credit associated with RLCs though, as Murphy explained that the program is meant to be self-directed and further students’ personal knowledge and understanding of their selected area of study.

“RLCs do provide additional work for students,” Murphy shared, “But they are doing work for something that they are genuinely interested in and have the ability to share that interest with the larger community.”

The pilot RLC studied environmental preservation, with subsequent years seeing RLCs study everything from politics to art.

This art RLC turned the living room of their apartment into an art studio and gallery as part of their learning process.

Two RLCs have been operating for the 2014-2015 academic year, with one (entitled “Culture Shock”) studying different cultures and diversity throughout the world and the other (entitled “Healthy Living”) studying exercise and nutrition.

“Our RLC has definitely had some ups and downs this year as we have lost some original members but have also added some new ones as well,” senior Casey Kowal shared about the Healthy Living RLC. “Overall, the RLC experience has been enjoyable. We were able to put on some fun programs last semester and we are looking forward to hosting more this semester.”

In the future, Weintraub explained that the Res. Life Office is looking to accrue more resources for RLCs, which has included contact with the Multicultural Center, Student Government Association and the Campus Activities Board and applying for an off-campus grant.

Weintraub expressed a desire to use these additional resources to expand RLCs to include experiential learning options such as guest speakers and field trips.

In the meantime, representatives from the Res. Life Office have been visiting classrooms to advertise the RLC program and pique students’ interest.