Be skeptical of ResLife changes

Isabella Abraham

Living/Learning Communities seem like the way to maximize a residence hall experience, especially for first-year students — that’s definitely what ResLife wants incoming first-year students to think.

There are numerous LLCs spanning all of UVM’s campus this year, and ResLife is planning on maintaining or increasing this standard for the 2018-19 academic year. It has been confirmed that ResLife is pushing to steer all incoming first-years into LLCs.

While ResLife may truly be looking out for the best interests of first-year students, it is important to be skeptical.

Some believe that ResLife is trying to narrow the pool of first-year students through the required applications of students who have already been accepted to UVM but who are still hoping to be placed in one of the LLCs.

Once these students are placed in an LLC and they arrive in August, ResLife may try to steer them into shallow experiences and relationships.

ResLife builds a facade of fostering lifelong relationships and meaningful lessons.

Yet when ResLife places students in the same residence hall simply because they just have one tiny overlapping area of academic or extracurricular interest, it may be difficult for the new college students to create meaningful relationships and experiences with their peers.

So why create these fake experiences in the first place?

ResLife looks to increase retention rates, or the number of students who return to the university after their first year. By forcing social connections and interest in certain topics, ResLife is seeking the return of past first-year students, and along with them, money.

Luis Vivanco is a professor in the Anthropology department and plays an active role in one of the LLCs in the Living/Learning Center.

While proud of the progress he has made with this LLC — the Integrated Social Sciences Program — he is skeptical because he knows significant reforms to his program and others are under way for next year.

Vivanco fears a “mass production model to create the sense of belonging, intimacy and connection so that [students] will stick around,” he said.

Don’t be fooled. These tweaks to first-year living — more students being encouraged to apply to an LLC, the creation of new LLC programs around campus and amenities like interesting classes or embroidered sweatshirts given to those in the LLC — are nothing new.

They have already taken over in the Wellness Environment, LLCs in the Living/Learning Center and others. On-campus residents, be warned as your dwelling too will probably be reformed.