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December 14, 2019   |   Ithaca, NY

News

East Tower to get two new learning communities next semester

Two residential learning communities (RLC) — the Language House and the newly created FIRST Place — and a new non-RLC sophomore living space will be added to East Tower next semester.

RLCs are specialized residences on campus for students who are interested in living with students who have a certain interest or identity in common. There are currently 10 RLCs on campus. Samantha Stafford, assistant director for the Office of Residential Life said the changes will not cost the college any additional money.

The Language House is the college’s language immersion residence that houses students who are fluent or interested in languages other than English. It is being moved from Terrace 5 to the fourth floor of East Tower because of renovations that were done to East Tower.

Stafford said the relocation will provide the Language House with more space for students to interact with one another.

“The reason why we moved it to the East Tower is because we know that these spaces are nice,” she said. “We just renovated the spaces, so they are gender neutral singleuse bathrooms and that is a big push for our RLC’s to be more inclusive.”

Stafford also said because of the variety of rooms and communal spaces, this will provide more room for students to meet and interact with one another on a daily basis.

“There is different kinds of rooms, there is a lounge on each floor and for the Language House, the whole goal is to have people be able to converse,” Stafford said.

Stafford said all students who are interested in maintaining or learning a language are welcome to join.

“We’re encouraging native language speakers, as well as people who just want to learn the language who are either taking classes or just want to improve their language skills and have passion for it,” Stafford said.

Sophomore Jackson Short lives in the Learning House. He plans on living off campus next semester, but he said he does not believe East Tower is the best place to move the Learning House because East Tower primarily houses first-year students and will not be as appealing to upperclassmen.

“I’m trying to build my Italian language skills, and I had friends that lived here last year,” he said. “All I can say is that I would dislike living in East Tower.”

Ronald Trunzo, director of Residential Life and Judicial Affairs, said there are benefits to the East Tower location.

“As with anything new, we will give it a try and see how it goes in the new location,” he said. “One benefit of the Towers location are the new single private bathrooms on the floor, which offer the greatest flexibility for students in providing a genderneutral option.”

FIRST Place RLC was created this semester after being requested by students and faculty. It will be located on the fifth floor of East Tower and open to any student who identifies as a first-generation college student.

FIRST Place is designed to help students who are new to the college adapt and create relationships with fellow classmates, faculty and staff and support them in their college journeys, which may be more challenging for them due to their lack of familial experience in higher education.

Stafford said this learning community was something that the campus community has been looking forward to.

“The first-generation housing was something that the students wanted to see happen, that the administration wanted to see happen, and we were able to make it work, and we’re excited to see how it is going to work out,” Stafford said.

Junior Diana Castillo, who is currently the resident assistant on the fifth floor of East Tower and the president of the first generation club on campus, said she believes FIRST Place will provide firstgeneration students a place to celebrate their identities.

“I think the fifth floor transitioning to FIRST Place is an amazing opportunity for first-gen students,” she said. “This identity is often overlooked, and I think this environment will help first-gen students transition into their college experience.”

Stafford said in addition to the FIRST Place RLC, East Tower will also receive an all-sophomore floor.

“The sophomore floor in the East Tower will be the 6th floor,” Stafford said. “Our rationale for adding a sophomore floor to the East Tower is the same as adding the RLCs there. We wanted to offer a space that is more inclusive and highly sought after by students.”

Stafford said two of the RLCs already mix upperclassmen and underclassmen, so having sophomores and freshman students one floor apart in East tower should not be a problem.  

“We currently have two RLCs — HOME and Honors that combine upper year students with first-year students, and both work well,” Stafford said. “It will give an opportunity to create meaningful relationships between classes.

Cody Taylor can be reached at ctaylor6@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @cody_tea19