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Residential College adapts to life in West Quad

By Stephanie Dilworth, For the Daily
Published November 26, 2012

The students of the University’s Residential College are homesick — not for their hometowns, but for East Quad Residence Hall.

As the first semester of housing the RC in West Quad Residence Hall comes to a close, many students, staff and faculty members of the program expressed negative feelings towards their temporary home for the year. The move was a result of renovations to East Quad, slated to be complete by September 2013.

RC students typically live and attend classes in East Quad as part of the two-year living-learning community requirement. This year their temporary home is shared with a variety of other students such as Wolverine athletes, Michigan Community Scholars Program students and other LSA students.

Charlie Murphy, a RC student services assistant, said he believes East Quad was more convenient for the learning community, and more likely to build community than their current home.

“It’s easier to build community when faculty, students, classrooms and facilities are all in the same place,” Murphy said. “The amount of contact that students are going to have with faculty and staff members is substantially greater in East Quad. I’ll be very happy to get everybody under one roof again.”

Elissa Bell Bayraktar, a RC French language and literature lecturer, said she feels the equipment in East Quad was not up to date and needed to be replaced, adding that she is enthusiastic about the new technology that will be available next fall.

“It was kind of dark in the basement and the carpet was old,” Bayraktar said. “Things were getting run down. I’m looking forward to better equipped classrooms and to my understanding the new East Quad will have all kinds of new equipment.”

According to Robin Goldberg, the RC student affairs coordinator, East Quad’s extensive renovations include new technology in all classrooms, updates in student rooms and a redesigned dining hall. Additionally, the art studios will be updated, staff offices will be relocated and a sculpture garden will be added.

Goldberg explained that architects designed the building around the specific needs of the RC with features like a separate dining room for language lunch tables for students in intensive language classes.

While East Quad is closed, RC students attend classes in the Dennison Building. Faculty offices are spread between South Quad Residence Hall and Dennison. Goldberg said she feels the dispersing of the RC across campus has proved difficult, but RC mentorship programs, forum groups and student government have been resurrected to enhance a sense of community.

“The idea of residential college is to provide a small, liberal arts school experience within the larger university,” Goldberg said. “It has been a challenge for us to scatter that small liberal arts school outside of our home. It’s been a huge transition for faculty and staff and for students as well.”

RC sophomore Ted Ma said he also misses the sense of community he felt in East Quad, which he believes is lacking in West Quad. He noted he does not like having classes outside of his residence hall.

“It’s definitely not as good living in West Quad this year,” Ma said. “It’s very annoying walking to Dennison all the time. Everything feels dissociated from the RC and everyone is so spread apart. It doesn’t really feel like a community. East Quad was weird but it definitely had character, it was likable.”

RC sophomore Emily Preuss added that her hall this year is mixed with students from different programs rather than strictly RC, which she said weakens the community feel.

“Most of my hall was all RC kids last year, and this year it is not,” Preuss said. “In the West Quad common areas you don’t see as many RC kids as in East Quad.”

RC sophomore Maggie Higgins added that she prefers living in East Quad, but hopes the exposure to more student groups in West Quad can reshape what she deems “RC stereotypes.”

“I think it’s really good for the RC to have exposure to other people, like athletes, so that other people can better understand what the RC really means and what kind of people are really in the RC,” Higgins said. “A lot of the RC stereotypes aren’t correct: that it’s full of hipsters and hippies, we’re all in this place where we don’t associate with other people, it’s not true.”


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