First-years to live in program houses

UVM’s programmed housing communities will soon expand to include all incoming students.

Although the decision will not be implemented before fall of 2017, every student will be part of a learning community, Living/Learning Director Dr. John Sama said. There will be some way for students to express interest in the themes of the housing they want to be a part of.

First-year David Bryant plays guitar in the Patterson Hall Wellness Environment April 8.
[/media-credit] First-year David Bryant plays guitar in the Patterson Hall Wellness Environment April 8.

“It might not look like they do now, but it will have some kind of theme and some kind of course connnection,” Dr. Sama said. “There is a new first-year experience and course being developed, and we really them to be connected.”

For Sama, the first-year course experience is going to “help ground students and help them get off to a good start.”

“For other schools for have done this kind of thing, the retention rate is higher in residential communities,” Sama said. “We also see that having additional staff and faculty present engaged in people’s lives makes a meaningful difference for not only students but faculty and staff.”

Last year after the central campus dorms were torn down housing was reduced, but programs like the Wellness Environment are offering living communities on different campuses.

There is some hesitation from students to live in programmed housing.

“I have thought of living in programmed housing,” first-year Kelly Gray said. “Some of my best good friends live in L/L, so I’ve grown fond of those little living communities. There’s no themed housing that appeals to me.”

First-year Emily Fischer said she considered applying for program housing.


“I thought about the bio house because it is my major, and it would be cool to be around people with similar programs,” Fischer said. “I thought about the Freestyle Ski house because I figured it would get me in good shape, but I didn’t do it.”

The Wellness environment is a substance free environment, said Wellness Environment director James Hudziakhousing2_color.

“The Wellness Environment is designed to foster a living space where you can have incentivized opportunities to test daily fitness, mindfulness and yoga,” Hudziak said.

The community offers access to fitness and nutrition coaching, yoga and mindfulness training, field trips, mentorship and other programs focused on mental and physical health.

“We’ve made the material so much more relevant,” said Jeff Rettew, co-director of Wellness Environment. “It’s become more successful, and students are more engaged.”

The Wellness Environment also hosts events, like partnering with Campus Recreation for Cats Night Out in December, a celebration held in the Patrick Gym to celebrate the end of the fall semester in a safe and healthy way.

They are also hosting the 5K for Wellness April 20 at the Archie Post Athletic Complex, where both the UVM and Burlington community are welcome to come and participate in the post-run celebration.

“We all know each other in my dorm, and we’re all friendly and help each other out, like a neighborhood,” first-year and WE resident Allen Vance said.

There are 330 first-years and 225 sophomores living in the program. Next year there will be 175 first-year students in Patterson as well as 178 Wellness E residents in Christie, and Redstone Hall will also be part of the network, Hudziak said.

The Wellness Environment has also taken on McCauley Hall on Trinity Campus, a dorm that is “historically more difficult to incentivize people to live in,” Hudziak said.

There will be a new kitchen, new yoga rooms, and new meditation rooms for the residents, he said.