Editorial: Living & Learning Centers create bubbles

December3cartoonFor years, people within the Baylor community have made efforts to eradicate “the Baylor Bubble.” Events such as Steppin’ Out have connected students to the Waco community and started to chip away at any negative stigmas separating the two.

The rise of Living & Learning Communities, while in many ways positive, has created a bubble within the bubble. There are eight LLCs at Baylor. They are open to all classifications, and spaces in these programs are limited. Students enter these communities through an application process. Each LLC has a different academic or organizational focus,  giving students a chance to live among like-minded people and participate in various activities.

Starting next August, the Education LLC will be housed in South Russell Hall. Entrepreneurship and Outdoor Adventure are in Brooks Flats for the 2014-2015 academic year along with the Global Community LLC.

Other Living and Learning Communities include Leadership in Allen and Dawson Halls, Fine Arts in the Heritage House in the North Village Residential Community, Science & Health in Earle Hall and Transfer Year Experience in the University Parks Apartments.

These communities have produced many good experiences and charitable outreaches. However, separating students into halls based on such specific interests ultimately hinders an important part of the college experience: mingling. This is especially relevant in major-based LLCs. Students are already grouped with similarly focused people in major-based classes. By living with these same people, students in LLCs are among the same group for the majority of their time at college.

Possibly more than any other time in life, college years expose individuals to new ways of thinking and living.

This is important in the process of becoming an adult and becoming prepared for the real world. Upon graduating, students will find themselves working alongside people with completely different views and beliefs. If they have not been exposed to getting along with different groups in college, these individuals could suffer a type of culture shock.

While the intentions behind LLCs are good, the execution leaves much to be desired. Having a community of like-minded people makes for good mingling among themselves. Living and Learning Communities have various mixers and activities to further bond a group living in close proximity to one another. A close-knit group is desirable in college, especially for first-year students who may not know anyone as they arrive on campus.

There is nothing wrong with that, nor is there anything wrong with a community of people with similar views and goals. However, a good thing could be made better if LLCs encouraged and fostered a culture of cross mingling with other halls.

LLCs such as Leadership bring two halls together with one community. However, this is only one LLC and only two dorms. Students within LLCs should be encouraged to branch out to all residential halls. This behavior could be fostered by expanding the activities LLCs already host, such as mixers. Even small gatherings with people not in an LLC could be an eye-opening experience for those who may be in a bubble.

While many students in LLCs may branch out on their own, this would provide an opportunity for those who wouldn’t normally step outside of their selected environment.