July 15, 2002

Frosh Join Program Houses in Greater Numbers

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More freshmen applied to live in program houses this year than last, Don King, director of community development in Campus Life, announced in early July.

“Our success this year is substantially better than last year. It looks like all of our houses, except for three, will be filled by students who have requested to live there. We also had more sign-ups [from upperclassmen] to stay this year than the previous year,” King said.

Cornell University is home to ten program houses: Risley, Just About Music (JAM), the Latino Living Center (LLC), Ujamaa, Akwe:kon, Multicultural Living Unit (McLLU), Holland International Living Center (HILC), Ecology House, Foreign Language House, and the Transfer Center.

Freshmen have the option of living in all but the last two. 300 students in the freshmen class will do so.

As they did last year, Campus Life will place students who have not requested to live in program houses to fill the spaces not filled in JAM, HILC, and Ecology House, according to King.

“JAM has done quite well. It’s looked upon as a more traditional house because it’s in a Low Rise. The issue with the Ecology house is that it is separated from the rest of North Campus,” King said.

“I think there were fewer sign-ups for the HILC because the number of international students attending college in the U.S. has gone down. We believe that is because of economics and terrorism,” he added.

King attributes the renewed success of the program houses to better advertising in the housing material sent to freshmen and a new brochure that was distributed during Cornell Days in April. He explained that some of last year’s freshmen may have been discouraged from living in the age-mixed program houses by the University’s concentration on the new all freshmen north campus.

“I think program houses are important because they do allow freshmen to escape from the North Campus Initiative, which is good for some kids, but some kids need to be around older kids with a common interest,” Orlando Soria ’04, a residential advisor in Risley, said.

Even though they house students from all years, program houses are required to have between 25 and 50 percent freshmen in residence.

“We wanted to be sure there were enough first-year students, so that they didn’t feel isolated,” King explained.

For the older residents, having freshmen is important as well, Soria added.

“Having freshmen makes it an entirely more interesting place. … It encourages people to reach out of their own social circles,” he said.

For some freshmen, the experience can be equally important.

“When I moved into the house as a freshman, homesick and totally overwhelmed, I was grateful to have the upperclassmen around to rely on. It was their encouragement that helped me through those difficult first few weeks,” said Laurel Freas ’01 on the Ecology House website.

“Some people say program houses are just another way to segregate the campus,” Soria said. “But, the truth is that Risley, for example, is a very diverse place where some people aren’t as ‘arty’ as others. I don’t think program houses are exclusive. The communities tend to be very welcoming.”

Archived article by Freda Ready