University offers new sustainable living-learning community

Student environmentalists will soon have a chance to come together as part of a new community on campus.

Starting fall 2012, University Housing will open “Sustainability,” a new living-learning community, or LLC, dedicated to environmental interests.

“Sustainability is a priority on the University of Illinois campus,” said Kirsten Ruby, assistant director of housing for marketing. “We have a lot of students who are interested in it, we have a lot of interest from different faculty groups and different on-campus organizations, and we have an interest in University Housing, so it was a perfect fit.”

Next year, the second floor of Shelden Hall, part of the Lincoln Avenue Residence Halls, will become an LLC focused on the different aspects of sustainability. The idea for this LLC, which has been a work-in-progress for a couple of years, started with students.

“We received a proposal from the Student Sustainability Committee, and they had an interest in a sustainability living-learning community,” said Nathan Sanden, assistant director for academic programs for the University Housing Department of Residential Life.

This housing option is expected to attract students with majors related to sustainability, such as those in the School of Earth, Society, and Environment. However, this LLC is open to students of all majors.

“We have only one earth, and we need to protect it,” said Tracy Tao, freshman in LAS. “I think everybody needs to take a stand toward protecting it.”

As an LLC, the core of this housing option will be academic. Students living there will be able to take classes, funded by the Office of the Provost and will be supplemented with co-curricular activities, such as field trips.

However, living on the floor will not only offer academic opportunities — the community will also host social programs.

“The majority of programming that happens, as with any of our communities, will be determined by the students,” Sanden said. “We generally will do a needs-assessment or an interest survey at the beginning of the year and ask the students what they’re interested in. That, really, is how we guide the community.”

While the LLC will start as just one floor of Shelden, if students show enough interest, it will expand to two floors the following year.

More information on the “Sustainablity” LLC can be found online at “www.housing.illinois.edu”:www.housing.illinois.edu.