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Living-learning: ECSU to offer new housing option

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Elizabeth City State University students and campus resident assistants pose for a group photo in the lobby of Viking Towers student housing, Friday morning. Seated (from left) are Sanda Oo, a junior; and sophomores Alexis Harmon and Noah Gunter. Seen standing (from left) are Jonathan Turnage, a senior; Adrianna Henderson, a sophomore; Jasmine Brumsey, a junior; Tyeshia Nicholson, a senior; Jarrett Moss, a junior; Morgan Corthell, a sophomore and Chanelle Austin, a freshman. ECSU will join a growing number of campuses in the University of North Carolina system and across the nation when it begins offering “living-learning communities” next year.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Elizabeth City State University will join a growing number of campuses in the University of North Carolina system and across the nation when it begins offering “living-learning communities” next year.

Living-learning communities are those in which students with similar majors or interests are grouped together in student housing and participate in programs and activities designed to bolster their college experience.

In the 2019-20 academic year ECSU will pilot five such programs: one for aviation science majors; a second for honors students; a third for students in ROTC; a fourth for first-year students; and a fifth for students seeking an LGBTQ-themed community.

Gary Brown, ECSU’s vice chancellor for student affairs, told the Student Experience Committee of the ECSU Board of Trustees on Tuesday that the living-learning communities are an extension of a broader transition in thinking about student housing. As part of that transition, Brown said, the term “dormitories” is being “sunsetted” and replaced by the newer term “residence halls” in recognition that residence halls are more than just a place to lay your head.

Brown noted that living-learning communities are a new trend in higher education. Hallmarks of strong living-learning communities include collaboration between the student affairs office and other departments on campus, housing assignments based on similar interests and activities, peer study groups, and academic and cultural discussions.

The living-learning communities will help students apply classroom learning in out-of-class experiences and should also help student-retention efforts, Brown said.

The initial living-learning communities at ECSU are expected to be relatively small. Brown said most would consist of maybe one wing of a single floor in a particular residence hall.

The LGBTQ living-learning community is expected to include only about a dozen students this fall.

Brown said participation in any of the living-learning communities will be elective and intended to enhance a student’s overall experience on campus. Aviation majors, for instance, will not be required to participate in the aviation living-learning community, he said.

“It’s not going to be a requirement of that program,” Brown said. “It’s just going to be an enhancement.”

Living-learning communities have grown in popularity nationwide over the past decade. East Carolina University started its first one in 2009 and now has 17 and plans to start more, according to information available through the UNC Communications Office.

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