BY FLORI NEEDLE '20
Living Learning Communities at Mount Holyoke College allow students who share common interests to live together on designated floors in various residence halls. In fall of 2014, the first two LLCs were introduced to the College: a floor for First Year Experience in the Rockies and the Women in Leadership Development LLC in Pearsons Annex.
In order to live in an LLC, students must complete an application with an essay about why they are interested in the community. Responses are reviewed and attempts are made to accommodate as many students as possible within space limitations.
Current LLCs include the First Year Experience in MacGregor, the Livin’ Free Floor in Torrey, the French, Spanish and Chinese Language Floors in Mead, the German and Italian Language Floors in Buckland, the Mary Woolley LGBTQIA Floor in Abbey, the Action Through Multifaith Floor in Wilder and the Living Green Floor in Pearsons Annex. With the exception of the Action Through Multifaith floor, these communities will return next year; however, the Living Green community will be housed in 1837. Residential Life is also offering three new communities, the Mosaic community, the Shirley Chisholm community in the Rockies and the Arts community in Wilder.
The Mary Woolley LLC is a community of students committed to fostering a safe and supportive environment that attends to the complexities that pertain to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and aromantic communities and their allies. Those living on the floor typically partake in group activities that build a cohesive community.
Theo Claire ’20 lives on the Mary Woolley floor in Abbey Hall and said that the LLC is very beneficial, especially for trans students. Ze said “It has been incredible to not be the only trans kid on my floor, right?” Ze also said, “When I go to the communal bathroom, I’m so much less worried than anywhere else on campus because I know I’m not the only one. I know that even if I’m encountering transphobia on campus, the people on my floor are in the same boat.”
Zohar Berman ’20 comes from a household that they feel does not support their identity. They said they “value the floor so much because it’s a space where names and pronouns are respected and used 100 percent, and that only comes with having a space filled with people who have had the same/similar experiences.” Berman said that many people are unaware of the homophobia and transphobia present on campus and that it is helpful to be on a floor where living feels safe.
Even though Berman feels extremely grateful to be living on the floor, they believe that there are some things that should change next year. They hope more people of color are included on the floor and that the CA remains a person of color. They said, “I think we need to include more international students on the floor. I’ve seen and heard a lot of instances where students will assume someone is straight and cisgender just because they’re not from the U.S. I believe integrating more international students here on this floor will be one step in raising their concerns and experiences.” Berman also says that while they understand that most LLCs have low participation in floor events, they wish there were more people interested in participating.
With such a diverse community at Mount Holyoke College, it can sometimes be easy for people to get lost in the commotion. The Living Learning Communities offer a way for people to remain in touch with their identities and hobbies.