Finding your community
Themed residence spaces give students a sense of belonging
My advice to nieces and nephews contemplating university has always been: leave home, and make sure to spend your first year in residence (assuming, of course, that all of this is financially feasible). I give the first part of that advice hoping that they’ll learn some independence, and the second part – about living in residence – thinking that it will give them the opportunity to create a supportive social network. Indeed, I’ve heard many people say over the years that some of their most cherished friendships began in residence.
Our cover story this issue, on living-learning communities, reinforces that concept. In this growing trend at Canada’s universities, students can choose when applying for residence to be placed with like-minded students in a themed residence community. Some of these communities are tied to the specific discipline that these students are pursuing, while others are based on a shared interest or identity. Bettina Welsh, director of student affairs operations at the University of Regina, says of these programs: “We know anecdotally that these students are getting a better experience. They’re making friends quicker and their sense of belonging is increased, which is really important for young people away from home.”
What I love about this concept is that it’s so simple and low-cost, and yet it touches on many current themes we hear about university, such as the importance of supporting students’ well-being and persistence, peer mentorship, building community, collaboration and so on. It’s that much more heartening to learn of this trend, and to have my belief in the benefit of residence living confirmed, as my own children have started considering their next steps after high school.
Keen readers will also notice that we’ve tweaked the design of the magazine. Our fabulous in-house graphic designer, Judith Lacerte, and our excellent design team at Underline Studio in Toronto felt it was time for a refresh. We changed a few of the fonts and cleaned up some of the clutter, giving a cleaner look to several sections. The biggest change is to the cover, with the large UA/AU logo placed unconventionally on its side at the right of the page, rather than at the top left. Find us on Twitter (@UA_magazine) and Facebook, or send us an email to let us know what you think.