College Dorms Cater to Student Interests
by Agnes Jasinski
Many colleges and universities offer students dorms particular to their fields of
study. A future engineer can bunk with others interested in engineering,
for example, or future educators may find a place for others interested in becoming
teachers. The dorms then become learning communities, and allow students a built-in
support network when they're struggling with homework or an upcoming exam.
Some schools, however, have been experimenting with communal
living for interests outside of students' majors, perhaps to get more students
interested in those colleges, keep students already enrolled happy, or to get students
to live in the dorms beyond their first years. A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education explores the kinds of
dorm communities that are cropping up on college campuses across the country, and
they're as diverse as students' interests come.
University of Vermont, students interested in healthy eating, anime or Harry Potter are able to live
in dorms set aside for students with those interests. (According to The Chronicle,
The Harry Potter dorm caters more to those interested in social justice issues,
and how "magic is symbolic for an individual's ability to change the world."
It couldn't be all fun.) Students at the school must come with proposals
of their own for the special interest dorms to take shape, and find student leaders
who will come up with extracurricular activities and collaborate with faculty advisers.
Georgia Institute of Technology, themed dorms explore the less academic
side of science. The 160 or so students who live in the learning communities are
able to find dorms based on their interests in humor, robotics, space colonization,
and the science of food, according to The Chronicle. Faculty members, who say the
students living in the themed dorms are more engaged in their learning able to converse
about academic subjects more easily than their peers, meet with the students once
a week. At
Ball State University, students from all majors interested in film, video,
and emerging media, are able to live in a dorm that provides them with all of the
technical equipment they would need to shoot projects on their own time. The dorm
cost the school about $60,000 to renovate and equip.
What kinds of themed dorms, if any, does your school offer undergraduates? Do you
like the idea, or do you think students should live with others who have more varied
interests? Let us know what you think about the specialized dorms.