Themed learning communities connect freshmen

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Themed learning communities connect freshmen

by Ryo Miyauchi, Arts & Lifestyle editor

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For incoming freshmen who may find it difficult to find a place at San Diego State even while living in on-campus dorms, there’s the option to live in one of the university’s residential learning communities.

RLCs help freshmen ease their transition from high school to college life on campus by connecting them with others with similar interests.

“When you walk into a 300-person lecture hall, it can be really intimidating,” residential education office assistant director Jenna Hazelton said. “So knowing the 30 students on your floor, day after day, seeing them in the dining hall helps break it down and makes it more manageable for students.”

Incoming freshmen can choose out of 20 different communities based on diverse themes. Some are based on majors, such as the business floor and the nursing community. Others focus on student interests beyond a specific study, such as the Women in Science and Engineering Community or the physical fitness floor. For those who don’t necessarily have a particular focus picked out, the housing administration also offers the Toltec House for undeclared majors.

When students get accepted into a residential learning community, they are enrolled in a class fitting the theme of the community. Community residents get to explore their own interests and do so with the company of their floor mates.

“As part of the learning community, the students live together and they also take classes together,” Hazelton said. “So we have to work with each of the academic departments and colleges to make sure we have the right numbers of seats and the right classes for each year.”

The housing administration and residential education department organizes programs and events to help students further explore their field outside of the classroom.

Here are some of the 20 residential learning communities available for housing. The sizes of each community varies with each theme, ranging from 20 to 60 residents, depending on floor capacity and classes needed.

Pride House

The Pride House was introduced as one of the two new residential communities this 2015-2016 school year. The administration created the community to provide a safer, more inclusive living environment on campus for incoming freshmen of the LGBTQ community and allies. The community partners with the Pride Resource Center on campus to bring educational programs and leadership development activities to its residents.

Adventures in Surfing and Sustainability

Adventures in Surfing and Sustainability is the other new community introduced this school year, which coincided with the renovation of Zura Hall. For the community, the administration found ways to incorporate the reasons why people move to San Diego, such as the weather and the outdoors, for the new residents looking to live in the revamped living hall. During their first year, students went on a field trip to the surfboard workshop Shapers Studios, as well as the Center for Surf Research’s Sustainable Stoke Conference.

Business

The business floor provides a venue where business students can explore what’s needed to succeed in the field, as well as find a place to connect with like-minded people to get ahead. Students in the community are pre-enrolled in two courses, Exploration of Business and Principles of Economics, to start their tracks as business majors. The community also partners with the College of Business to hold panels with business leaders for students to attend and interact with professionals in the field.

Social Activism and Global Environments

This activism-led community, SAGE for short, promotes student efforts to bring social awareness and leadership to campus. Residents in the SAGE hall participated in the Week of Care event on campus in 2014 by creating art pieces for a gallery and collaborating on a mural to raise awareness of human trafficking in the Tijuana region. The art was auctioned off and the profits were donated to Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition, a local non-profit dedicated to preventing slavery and trafficking.

Visual and Performing Arts

Visual and Performing Arts welcomes students interested in creatively expressing themselves through music, film, theater and other arts. The residents attend one or two theater productions throughout the school year. They also had the opportunity this past year to put together their own productions and presentations as a capstone project for their university seminar class. More communities are available through the Housing Administration and Residential Education.

Future Education Professionals

The Future Education Professionals group is open to all majors looking to be involved in the career of education, such as teachers, counselors, family therapists and more.

The academic plan for the community follows the liberal studies course, with freshmen pre-enrolled in Introductory Psychology. The assistant dean to the College of Education heads the university seminar for the RLC, and she makes sure the students get the training to be CPR certified.

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