With more than 60 percent of GW freshman participating in living and learning programs, the University must make strides to fulfill its promises of organized and effective programs.
Two years ago, there were only three living and learning programs for freshmen: Politics and Values, Roots of Western Civilization and International Affairs. Today that number has ballooned to 14 programs in Lafayette, Thurston and Mitchell halls, the Hall on Virginia Avenue and the Mount Vernon Campus.
Although the Community Living and Learning Center has commendably aimed to bridge the gap between home and University life, it has fallen short in its oversight. Too often programs fail to live up to the promises the University offers in its housing booklet.
Furthermore, many students choose to become part of a program for no other reason than to achieve housing security. Students who join programs in HOVA, for example, know they have a space in the newest freshman residence hall.
Students in the LEAD program say their Dakota living arrangements often pair them with non-members of the program, diminishing the group’s cohesion. But at least there may be an accidental benefit to this slip-up as students with varying viewpoints room together.
CLLC says it pairs students with similar interests. But by doing this it risks segregating students, preventing an environment that promotes diversity of lifestyles and viewpoints. With students motivated to learn more about women’s studies, politics and other cultures spread out across the campus in various residence halls, the University needs some way to bring students together in a mutually beneficial setting.
Interjecting “Healthy Lifestyles” floors in residence halls removes the constructive reality that characterizes college life. Not only do some students break their promises of swearing off smoking and alcohol consumption, those students who are able to resist can also find personal strength in abstaining from alcohol usage when temptations are staring them in the face.
CLLC’s attempt to change the culture of residence life with student pledges is an example of a University public relations strategy that is strong in theory but weak in substance. Students should learn to deal with negative influences the way other college students have for years through personal choice rather than physical restriction.
Learning does not end outside the classroom door. But for the University to extend the learning process into residence halls, it must make stronger efforts to design and implement programs that are thought provoking and constructive.