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The Blue & Gray Press | December 16, 2017

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Living Learning Programs to See Changes In Residence Hall Policies

By ELIZABETH HILLGROVEL

The International Living Center, which has been in Framar House since 1997, may be relocated. The program, now called Living Learning Communities (LLC), requires students to complete a new process to remain in their assigned residence halls.
Chris Porter, Director of Residence Life and Housing, hopes the change will make living-learning programs more student-motivated.
“The point is to provide different opportunities for students to create their own LLCs,” Porter said.
The new process requires each group to include at least 8 students who are interested in a living-learning community.

They will apply annually with their proposal of an educationally sound program and list their three top choices for placement in residence halls.  This is a change to the policy of recent years when these living-learning environments did not need to reapply yearly.
Many residents of Framar House have made complaints  to The Office of Residence Life and Housing.
“I was disgusted, completely taken aback,”  said Michelle Welcher, president of Framar.
The other 20 residents of Framar House were also displeased with the news, which Christopher Medley, resident director and advisor of the LLC groups, personally presented to them.  They have organized a petition of student signatures, hoping to have the policy changed.
“They are trying to boost other programs but they’re going to ruin something strong that’s already established: the ILC,” said Humeira Akbar, an honor contact for the group.

However, Porter said before she arrived at UMW, groups had to reapply every year, giving presentations to a committee.

This year, after applications are submitted, a committee will interview and evaluate the prospective groups.  The committee will determine housing placement depending on the needs of the program and how many interested students the groups can recruit.
Framar House residents are concerned that not having a permanent residence for the ILC will harm the community that they have established as a place where members of different cultures can cohabitate comfortably and diversely. Clubs such as the Islamic Student Association, Spanish and Latin-American Student Association and Students Helping Honduras have met in their common area.
“Having our own home is extremely important,” Welcher said. “It sends a message to prospective students that the school cares enough to have a permanent center for cultural diversity and cultural understanding.”
Welcher and ILC resident Elspeth England met with Porter last week to express their concerns.  They had also collected previous ILC residents’ feedback on the issue to include in their support.
Porter said that the ILC is in a strong position to articulate their reasoning for consideration for Framar House and the group has been assigned someone to work with hand-in-hand throughout the process.
“We want them [ILC] to continue, but we want them to meet the standard we are setting for everybody,” Porter said. “In fairness, it is essential that we open areas to everyone.”
However, ILC members still want to prevent this new annual process from being enforced.
As Akbar puts it, “It ain’t over till it’s over.  Rocky Balboa.”