When I first decided to commit to the University of Indianapolis, I was excited yet also very anxious. I know that many people commonly say that “the college years are some of the best in your life,” but that was not exactly enough to completely ease my anxieties. After all, this was going to be a totally different environment than what I was used to my whole life. Additionally, there was so much to think about when transforming into a college student, ranging from moving away from home to ideas about how I wanted to decorate my new dorm room. But, at the time, I was mainly worried about making new friends in an environment where I knew little to no one. However, the idea that I could join a Living Learning Community in my freshman housing gave me a little bit of hope in getting through my first year in college.
During the enrollment process, I researched the university extensively and learned about some of the many groups and organizations UIndy had to offer. But, there was one organizational page, in particular, that caught my eye: the LLCs. I found the concept of being able to live with people who shared your major or a common piece of identity to be very interesting. As a person of color going to a primarily white institution, I was worried that it could be a challenge to meet people who related to me on a cultural level, so the Umoja LLC especially caught my attention. According to the Umoja UIndy page, “…The Umoja Scholars LLC aims to cultivate a sense of belonging for first-year students who identify as Black, African-American or within the African diaspora at the University of Indianapolis.”
Even though I did not end up choosing to live in the Umoja LLC, I still think that the opportunity offers something very important to the student body. According to a study from the Healthy Minds Network, 34% of female, 37% of male, and 19% of non-binary and transgender college students reported feeling a “lack of companionship” while at school. In addition, a total of 36% of student reported having anxiety, 41% reported some level of depression and 14% reported suicidal ideation in the last year. College can be overwhelming and lonely at times and by offering a variety of different LLCs to join, UIndy alleviates one stressor from students’ lives.
According to the LLCs page, “LLCs are immersive learning experiences designed to bring students with common academic interests together for heightened intellectual and social success. LLCs assist students by placing them in close-knit Living-Learning Communities that support scholastic success, cultivate safe and supportive environments, encourage personal growth and foster social responsibility. The ultimate goal is to help students mature into the best version of themselves, both personally and professionally, so they can become leaders here at UIndy and beyond.” I think the mission behind the LLCs further solidifies the need for them on campus, especially since many students can struggle with learning the many skills necessary to thrive in college.
Umoja is just one of the LLCs UIndy has to offer. There are three more academic-based LCCs, including groups for engineering majors, nursing majors and Honors College students. Additionally, there is also another identity-based LLC entitled “Stonewall” which is geared toward supporting LGBTQ and allied students. I believe that the existence of the Stonewall LLC helps ease some of the woes that LGBTQ students can face whilst attending a four-year institution.
LLCs offer something unique to campus by offering students an opportunity to live around people they share common interests and backgrounds, and are somewhat a necessity. Colleges can be a difficult time, especially coming in as a freshman, and sometimes it can feel like you have been “thrown into the deep end.” By giving queer and minority students the option of living in an LLC, UIndy is providing them a safe space in a way which helps them further connect with similarly identifying students. Likewise, by offering communities consisting of people in the same major, the university is aiding in developing companionship and better academic skills. The university not only offers a built-in support system by sponsoring LLCs, but also a chance for students to gain lifelong skills and friendships.