Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Grammy-worthy talent coming to 45th Sunset Concert Series beginning June 13
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Saluki softball huddles together before facing the California Golden Bears in the first round of the NCAA Regional May 17, 2024 at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photo provided by Saluki Athletics
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    Living-learning communities offer a supportive environment for student success

    Simeon Hardley
    Schneider, Mae Smith, and Neely Hall were built in the 1960’sSouthern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. Simeon Hardley| @SimshardPhotography

    In SIU’s housing scene, one option stands out: Living-Learning Communities. These locations are redefining the traditional college dorm experience, emerging as a top choice for students seeking places of academic and social integration on campus. 


    On campus, there are nine different academic LLCs, each affiliated with a different college or program within the university. These LLCs serve as specialized living environments tailored to the academic interests and goals of their members, providing opportunities for collaborative learning, mentorship and community engagement within specific academic disciplines or fields of study.



    Additionally, there are four themed LLCs available on campus: Campus Pride, Hope Chicago, Men of Color and Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). These themed LLCs cater to specific interests, identities, or affiliations within the student body, offering support and resources to their members.


    Natalie Eves, a first-year student in the Honors LLC said, “My experience in an LLC has been amazing. I think it’s really beneficial and I believe that other students should try LLCs…Not only are you surrounded by those in your major, but a lot of times you will meet your best friends.”


    The University Honors Program LLC is a specialized housing option designed specifically for students who are part of the Honors Program. These students are immersed in a more rigorous academic environment, characterized by a more challenging workload and enriched learning experiences.



    “The honors dorm has been really great,” Eves said. “I think what sets it apart from other LLCs is that we aren’t all from the same majors, although a majority of us still end up in honors classes together. The fact that we are from different majors allows for us to get a well rounded world view and allows us to have friends from a variety of majors.”


    The diverse academic backgrounds within the Honors LLC fosters the exchange of ideas and perspectives, enhancing the overall learning experience for residents.


    “The honors dorm is a very welcoming community. No matter what time you walk through the dorm or what floor you will see students studying together or hanging out. It really facilitates friendships while still emphasizing the importance of studying,” Eves said. 


    Luke Kaldor is a freshman automotive student who chose to live in the Health and Human Science LLC. 


    He said, “It has been very beneficial to be in an LLC because it allows you to make friends with others that are in your program outside of class. It also makes it easier to have study groups.”


    For automotive students, this includes the opportunity to collaborate on projects, share study materials, and engage in discussions related to their field.


    Kaldor said he would like for the LLC to have access to practical resources within their living environment. 


    “I wish that the automotive LLC was still allowed to keep an engine in the LLC as well as an electrical board on each floor of the LLC for practice for freshman automotive classes,” Kaldor said.


    These resources would provide hands-on more opportunities for students to gain valuable experience and practice relevant skills outside of the classroom setting, he said.


    These dorms are not just focused on academic success. They also offer social opportunities with a number of extracurricular activities. Students can enjoy a well-rounded college experience that combines academic excellence with memorable moments with friends. 


    “There’s been an abundant amount of floor- and dorm-wide activities throughout the school year, from ice cream socials to movie nights,” Eves said. “I would highly recommend LLCs to anyone who is interested in staying in the dorms.”


    LLC living is primarily recommended to incoming freshmen. 


    Kaldor said, “If you have the opportunity you should at least live within your LLC for a year.”


    Eves said, “I also think LLCs are extremely important for first year students. It definitely helps them to get acclimated to college life with the support of others. LLCs produce tight knit groups of students who have the same interests and goals in life. I think that being in an LLC matters a lot; the peer support you get from an LLC can’t really be found elsewhere.”


    Alberto Juarez, an RA in Brown Hall, echoes similar sentiments, and said, “As a freshman, it does help going into an LLC just because you get in with people that…have the same end goal. They are all graduating with the degree that you’re possibly graduating with.”


    He adds, “After freshman year, it’s not as needed. I feel like if you’re really really enlightened by the major it would be beneficial to stay, that way you can really enjoy the major and make it not as scary for people that are coming into it, but freshmen definitely should use the opportunity.”


    There are some LLCs that specifically focus on the needs of first-year students. These dorms provide a structured environment where students with similar academic interests can connect and support each other as they adjust to life away from home.


    One of these options is the Saluki Success Initiative LLC. This LLC is designed to offer academic assistance to a specific group of students demonstrating potential for college-level studies. Without this avenue, these individuals might not have access to university education.


    Freshmen business students are also required to live on campus in Brown Hall, which houses the College of Business and Analytics LLC. This is the only college that requires freshmen to live in a specified LLC. 


    Karen Villanueva is another RA in Brown Hall. She said, “Last year was my first year on campus as a student. I was in the Business LLC, on the first floor which is the FIG (Freshman Interest Group) floor. I know not all colleges have that, but the Business School does.”


    The entirety of the building is occupied by business students, with the first floor being designated for specific freshmen who have applied. Students are assigned a similar schedule as their peers who also live on the first floor. They are also given additional support and opportunities. 


    Villanueva said, “There were definitely more requirements that were asked of us last year. We had to do weekly faculty lunches, and we were required to go to Touch of Nature and do a team bonding thing like the first weekend we moved.”


    RAs are encouraged to integrate the majors represented within the LLC and to consider the primary interests of the residents when planning events and programs.


    Juarez said, “It’s the responsibility of the RA to have events planned. If you do, hope your residents are engaging, because usually, more often than not, I’ve seen some buildings that don’t have a lot of their residents going to them and the interest isn’t there. But we’ve been trying.”


    Since the FIG LLC is an interest group for freshmen that really want to get involved on campus or they are interested in what they could get out of their time here at SIU, RAs must advocate for students to go out more.


    “It was definitely a learning experience on how to do the programming, or at least the ones that are required of the RAs. But in terms of the ones that the school will put on for the freshmen, I did take some of the new students to that where they get to meet some faculty. I like that they put that on,” Villanueva said. 


    During the initial semester, she took the initiative to arrange a series of “study jams” within the building. These gatherings were informal yet productive, offering students a relaxed setting to review course material, work on assignments, and prepare for exams. She also had snacks and refreshments available, to encourage participation and engagement among the attendees.

    Through these initiatives, she aimed to promote academic success among her fellow residents.


    “I think the College of Business has been doing a pretty decent job already, hosting events and then just kind of contacting us and saying, ‘can you guys bring out your residents to this’? I feel like that’s beneficial. I don’t know if the other schools do that, but I feel like other schools should try to do that more often,” Villanueva said.


    Drawing from her prior experience with FIG and as a business major, she said she wanted to incorporate events such as these because the group had developed a strong bond over the years, and it helped to promote a sense of unity and belonging among its members.


    However, it’s important to acknowledge that some RAs may have less experience with the LLC they are assigned to, as it is not mandatory for them to have the same major as their residents.


    Juarez said, “Freshman year I was an accounting major, but now I’ve switched to zoology.”


    However, despite potential differences in majors, RAs can still develop meaningful connections with their residents. Each LLC possesses its own distinct characteristics and atmosphere and changes drastically from year to year. 


    For Juarez, even after switching majors he still felt like he had some attachment with the people there. That shows the strength of bonds made within the LLC environment, despite changes in individual academic pursuits. It highlights the importance of recognizing and embracing the individuality of each LLC, fostering a supportive and inclusive living environment tailored to the needs of each and every member.


    Villanueva said, “As an RA you’re just aware of your own floor, that it’s an LLC with people that are studying business or are undecided about business. When we do rounds, you can definitely see the differences. Each LLC has a very different vibe, and that’s really good.”


    For more information about LLCs visit the SIU Housing website


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