Viewpoint: Don’t separate students by majors in housing decisions

By Linda Nguyen

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for East Village to open up in the fall.

Although I’m not going to be living there, I think East Village great for science students who live on campus because it will allow them to stay in relatively nice on-campus housing that’s close to the BSB, were they will be spending most of their time.

East Village is a good thing ­— for the most part.

However, Baylor is doing a little too good a job at allowing students in similar majors to live in such close proximity to one another, and this can cause East Village to be a not-so-good thing.

The East Village Residential College will house the Science and Health Living & Learning Communities, as well as the Engineering and Computer Science Residential Colleges.

These groups already are pretty separated from the rest of campus. For example, science students have majority of their classes in the BSB and rarely leave it. Engineering and computer science students have the majority of their classes in the Rogers Building, and already have their own Living & Learning Community for engineering and computer science.

What this means is that Baylor is essentially going to take almost all the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students and concentrate them in one area of campus so they never have to interact with other students. Maybe I’m the only person that sees this going very badly.

I understand that Baylor wants to build community among students. On first glance, it’s easier to group students together by their interests and major instead of encouraging community that transcends the traditional boundaries of majors and general interests.

Honestly though, I feel like this prevents students from getting outside their comfort zone and really interacting with students from other disciplines.

I’m a pre-med student. Even this semester, as I’m cutting back on my science classes in order to prepare to take my MCAT, I still interact with other science and pre-med students most of the time. I already take many classes with them. I see them at pre-health organizational meetings and in my research lab.

Now Baylor wants us to live together as well?

Don’t get me wrong, I love my fellow pre-med students, but if I retreated into the science bubble, I wouldn’t know the amazing people I met from other disciplines. I definitely would not be working for the Lariat right now.

Yes, there are other ways for students to make friends with one another through extracurriculars, but at the end of the day, when you’re going back to a residential community with essentially all science, pre-health or engineering students, it’s going to be difficult to encourage branching out.

I’ll reiterate what I said at the top: East Village is a good thing, but it also has the power to isolate students based on their career or academic interests. The way I see it, if I get into medical school, I’ll be spending the next four years or so interacting almost solely with other medical students or, if we want to broaden that umbrella a little bit, other health professions students. Right now, as an undergraduate, I want to pursue all my other interests. I want to meet people from all different walks of life and areas of academic study.

I would strongly urge the East Village executive and advisory committee members to please take that into consideration when selecting students to live in the residential college next semester.

They have the power to make East Village into an exclusive STEM club, or they can use this opportunity to bring different kinds of students together, students who maybe aren’t science majors, but are interested in sciences.

There are plenty of students like that at Baylor who could bring and encourage diversity in this residential college. East Village can be great, or it can be just another venue for science and pre-health students to avoid interacting with students from other academic disciplines.

Linda Nguyen is a senior neuroscience major with a secondary major in journalism from Missouri City. She is the A&E editor for the Lariat.