With about 150 of Mitchell Hall’s 300 residents participating in arts Living and Learning Communities, leaders of the dormitory are pushing to transform and promote it as an entirely arts-oriented space.
Ryan Ketac, Mitchell’s Community Living and Learning Center director, is in charge of an arts program that encompasses six separate LLCs ranging in concentration from literature to photography.
Ketac said he has proposed to the University to turn all of Mitchell into an arts LLC by next year. Although no official steps have been taken to convert the all-singles hall into an exclusively arts community, the building was advertised as “the home of the arts” at Colonial Inauguration this summer.
Each of the arts LLCs average a little more than 20 students; the arts community has nearly tripled in size since last year. “We really wanted to build an arts commune,” Ketac said.
Several of the LLCs have trips planned for the academic year, including a trip to a film festival in New York City for the Silver Screen LLC and a dance show in Las Vegas for the Rhythm Community. Generally, CLLC foots the bill for such excursions.
Overall involvement in LLCs is up this year, with 947 freshmen, or 36 percent of the freshman class, taking part in a community. Last year, 732 freshmen were in an LLC. The groups are free to join, and students can sign up for them in their respective buildings at any time.
Community organizers said students in LLCs generally get better grades and have more access to University resources.
An all-arts Mitchell Hall would still house students not interested in joining an LLC, Ketac said.
“There’s value for non-arts (students) to be exposed to the arts too,” Ketac said. “It’s not going to be degree-specific, just purely people who are interested.”
Matt Trainum, CLLC associate director of residential life and education, said that although he would like to see the Mitchell arts community expand, he thinks immediate action on the part of the University is unlikely.
Despite a three-fold increase in Mitchell’s LLC population, Trainum said he does not foresee a shortage of single rooms for students not interested in the arts.
“We like to open as much space possible as we think we have demand,” Trainum said.
Trainum said he hopes to see all LLCs on campus expand during the next few years as the Mitchell community has done. He also wants to get upperclassmen involved in the experience.
Recruitment for upperclassman LLCs will soon take place for the 2005-06 academic year. Currently, 100 sophomores, juniors and seniors are in an LLC.
For now, Ketac said he is just happy to see that the arts community is thriving among Mitchell residents and at a school that is not known for its arts programs.
Freshman David Phillips is a member of the Soundtrack LLC, which is dedicated to music appreciation. Phillips said his experience in the arts community has been a positive one.
“It’s really a phenomenon … we play on the porch together at night,” Phillips said. “I’ve met a lot of kids through Soundtrack.”
Phillips, an international affairs major, said joining the community helped him explore his musical interests in college.
“It’s introduced me a lot of different musical philosophies,” he said. “It’s very communal.”