LLCs form college ‘niches’

Paying for GW housing does not just mean paying for a room. It also means paying for some students to dine at nice restaurants and go on mini-vacations with friends in their Living and Learning Cohorts.

Students feel more connected to niches at GW rather than the University as a whole, according to preliminary findings of a self-study conducted by Student and Academic Support Services. Creating LLCs are just one of the many ways students can carve out such nooks.

“I’ve always looked at LLCs as one of the many opportunities for students to get involved at GW,” said Matt Trainum, employment director of GW Housing Programs.

An LLC is a community of students with similar interests, such as food or culture. The University supports 45 LLCs for about 850 freshmen and 28 groups for about 250 sophomores, juniors and seniors. Freshman LLCs receive at least $30 per person from GW Housing Programs, while upper-division LLCs receive at least $100 per person to provide programming for their participants.

“We give what is necessary for the groups to function based on what they propose they are going to do,” Trainum said.

Mike Mentzel, a member of the 13-person Culture of Cuisine LLC based in JBKO, said all the group’s members lived on the same floor of Thurston Hall last year. They formed an LLC, Culture of Cuisine, and now have $2,000 from GW to cook traditional holiday dishes from other countries.

“The LLC gave us a chance to continue living together and share something we all love,” Mentzel said.

Some students said forming an LLC is just as much about getting good housing and GW sponsorship as it is about being a community.

“While the people may share a common interest, an LLC is an edge to ensure you housing that you want with people that you want,” said senior Sneh Patel, who was in an LLC her freshman year.

The 29 members of GWhine and Dine, a first-year LLC that is part of the Somers Media and Public Affairs House, received $1,500 from GW to spend at restaurants this year. After eating out, they will write up reviews of the restaurant.

Students must go through an application process in which they have to clearly define the objectives and goals of the LLC.

“We do not approve groups who are just looking to live together,” Trainum said, “but (do approve) those who want to learn and achieve a specific goal.”

Sophia Tupolev is the creator of the first-year LLC Zest, which focuses on healthy eating.

“We end up in a rut and make choices that are unhealthy,” said Tupolev, who created a Facebook group for her LLC called G-Dubs Pays for Me to Eat.

The members of Zest visit different restaurants close to campus and then cook similar dishes back in the dorm.

“Through our LLC, we can simultaneously gain exposure to cultures and learn about more options so we can eat differently and make better decisions in the future,” Tupolev said.

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