Living Learning Communities began six years ago at UNR to help students maintain a high grade point average, get help from mentors in their field of study and break free of shyness by constant interaction with others.
“The idea is to try to get them building those relationships right away,” said Jerome Maese, director of residential life. “When they start to get into progressively harder courses hopefully they’ll build those bonds and relationships with their classmates and their professors.”
Maese said the different features of the new residence hall provide students with more than just a place to live. Faculty offices on the ground floor allow students more interaction with professors. The first floor also has four classrooms in two sizes that will hold entry-level classes in English, science and math.
Across the hall from the classrooms lies the multi-purpose room, complete with a full kitchen for hosting special events or receptions. The bike storage room, which houses up to 50 bikes securely, completes the bottom floor of the new building.
Moving up to the two-person suites, Maese said the living quarters were designed with interaction in mind.
“It gives the freshmen an opportunity to be with somebody who has been successful through their freshmen year of college,” he said. “All the resident assistants in this building are studying a major of the Living Learning Community.”
Each of the four floors has two resident assistants and one academic adviser. Rebecca Zug, a senior at UNR, is majoring in pre-nursing and community health sciences and will be a resident assistant in the new building this year. She said the expanded hallways and extra study rooms will help her coordination of the pre-nursing floor this year.
“Not having a private study room in Nye made it really hard to form study groups because they are also the hangout lounges for each wing on that floor,” Zug said of her days monitoring Nye Hall. “It will be a lot easier (this year) and will separate the people have done their homework or who are in separate classes from the people who need to do their homework.”
Zug said the importance of freshmen interacting with other students is essential to succeeding in college. She said being able to form groups for study and for socialization is a skill that will follow students long after school is finished.
“You have to break out and be interactive because that is how you build networks in your career path and how you build friends,” she said. “It’s like a foundation and living in a residence hall forces you to do that because you are living with so many other people and it kind of breaks you out of your shell of living at home with your parents.”
Maese said the wider hallways allow for more interaction when students leave their rooms, while the lounge provides a social environment separate from the “library” where students can study in a strictly enforced quiet area.
The key ingredient to students living in the Living Learning Community Residence Hall is their resident assistants and academic advisers. Maese said when students find that their assistants have already traveled the road they are just beginning, it not only makes them more social, but boosts their success.
“You come in your freshman year wondering if you’re going to make it and there is a sophomore or a junior or senior who says this is how you get through chemistry or calculus,” he said. “Someone who has been there, done that recently provides them a role model and also some guidance to go to saying I am struggling.”
The new Living Learning Community will be filled with students beginning in the fall semester. More information about the Nevada Living Learning Community is available at www.unr.edu/housing/llc.