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New Living and Learning Communities Enhance Students’ Belonging

President Mahdavi with students and guests during Living and Learning Communities event weekend lunch

As a new housing feature this year, the Center for Multicultural Services has implemented the Black and Latinx Living and Learning Communities on campus to encourage inclusivity and community building for new and continuing students of color. This initiative was made in collaboration with Housing and Residential Life, the Academic Success Center, and other partners on campus, who will collaborate to support each student academically and socially during their collegiate journeys. 

Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs and Black Student Services Alesha Knox is determined to provide a sense of increased belonging for the next generation of students coming to live and learn on campus. 

“We are their community; we are their family [ready] to learn more about each other, to learn more about the people who come from similar backgrounds to them, that look like them, who went through similar experiences,” Knox said. “First, they can be in community together, then thrive and strive at the university.” 

These affinity groups moved in last Friday and now have their own common residential areas. Each student involved in the living and learning communities were able to attend a three-day event series to help introduce them and their parents to campus, the local community, provide meals, and offer sessions to showcase the campus resources available to them.  

A catered lunch was held outside the Ludwick Center for Spirituality, Cultural Understanding, and Community Engagement last Friday for students and their parents to meet and mingle before the rest of the day’s scheduled activities. University of La Verne President Pardis Mahdavi met with students and families during the lunch hour as she, too, begins her first year at the university alongside many of them. 

Eugene Shang, director of residence life and student conduct, attended the events and sees the partnership between the scholar programs and the living and learning communities as a great way for students to connect with the university as a whole. 

“It’s a very involved community ready to provide helpful services and a place for students to call their own,” Shang said. 

Director of the Academic Success Center (ASC) Savannah Garcia will support the learning communities by implementing academic resources and programming within the groups. She encouraged each student to take advantage of the academic support provided at the ASC; some of which includes tutoring, academic coaching, classroom support, and even self-exploration tools aimed to help identify students’ learning styles and academic strengths.  

This is the second year the center has connected communities with the Black Scholars Success Program, and the first year implementing Latinx Scholars. Approximately 70 students have applied to live in these living and learning communities. Honors students also have the opportunity to join their own living and learning communities in the same communal structure together. Due to increased demand, the initiative has grown to include more groups.