The impact of all this personal attention is dramatic, Hurd says. “The quality of the learning community’s work is so extraordinary that I posted it on our web site. These students are already assuming leadership roles in the School of Management. I’m sure there are many management students shaking their heads and saying, ‘I wish I’d checked that box for the learning community.’
      “National data suggest that learning community students do better academically,” Hurd continues. “It could just be time on task; these students can’t walk away from their academic life. They monitor each other and feel a responsibility for getting everybody to class. We all know it’s easier to go work out, or go to a class, with a buddy.”
      Nance Hahn, former assistant director of SU’s Writing Program, taught the management learning community students in a series of writing workshops designed to demystify the process of writing “the big bear papers” like industry analyses. Hahn, who’s taught writing since 1986, offered the workshops in the evening at the residence hall.
      “I consider myself pretty flexible and eager to make my courses more user-friendly, but this is the first time I’ve taught students in bunny slippers,” Hahn chuckles. “At that time of day, and on their own turf, students seem looser, more willing to talk. The residence halls are really hopping at night. There’s a lot of writing going on, and students are reading each other’s papers. If every faculty member went into the residence halls occasionally, this would be a different campus.”

Students who crave a strong sense of community—without an academic component—may live on one of SU’s theme floors, such as the Wellness or Living in a Substance-Free Environment (LIFE) floors in Shaw Hall. “These floors are based on shared values,” explains Teresa Metzger, Shaw’s residence director. “The year starts with a combined retreat for both floors at an off-campus site. There’s a lot of campfire stuff and bonding. The students do health assessments that measure their physical, mental, and emotional health, and the weekend culminates with setting goals for the semester.”
      Wellness Floor resident Curtis Dahn ’01, a music composition major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, calls the retreat “awesome.” “I formed several friendships that are still strong,” he says. “The Wellness Floor is really inclusive; there’s a real sense of acceptance. And there’s always something interesting happening on the floor.”
      There is no stereotypical student on the Wellness Floor, now in its ninth year. “To these 70 students, wellness simply means being the best you can be,” says Wellness RA Alicia Clifford, who arranges weekly wellness programs that range from Tae-Bo classes to meditation sessions. “We all bring together our strengths on the wellness model: physical, social, emotional, occupational, spiritual, even environmental health. Wellness students have ambition. They’re eager to get to know each other. They’re ethnically diverse, into open dialogue, and big on self-expression—pictures, poetry, writing. People here look beyond their own worlds and respect differences.”
      Students whose definition of wellness resolutely precludes alcohol or other drugs may opt for Shaw’s LIFE Floor, which also has a strong sense of community. “Some people don’t want to deal with those shenanigans,” says Bryanna Parr ’01, RA on the LIFE Floor. “The people who live here are here a lot. They’re not out drinking on weekends. We have a lot of social programming, like trips to the movies and the mall, and a lot of spontaneous fun, like Frisbee in the mud.”
      “We’re like a family here,” says floor resident Howard Johnson Jr. ’03, a television-radio-film major in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. “We hang out. We laugh. We horse around. We call it the Shawliday Inn.”

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