President Byerly announced a new plan over the summer for how college residences are organized, saying that she hopes to create “a unified and comprehensive residential program that connects and integrates residential, co-curricular, and academic experiences for students.”
The new program, which Byerly called “Connected Communities” in her email announcement in May, would put students with similar interests into different residence halls and “serve as [a] platform for four years of class-based programs of advising, mentoring, and leadership development.” The hope, Byerly said, is that the Communities will anchor students with other students who have the same likes and create a stronger sense of affinity between them that they can carry for their four years at Lafayette.
“[The Communities] would build a series of…orientation groups when students come in that, instead of disappearing after orientation, would have some continuing connections for students over the course of their four years,” Byerly said. “Not in a residential way, but that there would be ongoing meetings among the groups of students in a given class that would persist regularly…[the groups] would be used as a kind of scaffolding for a lot of the advising and other kinds of…non-academic work.”
When implemented, incoming students will be placed into residence buildings with other first-years, without sophomores, juniors, and seniors living around them.
Byerly stressed that the groups would allow for kinship between first-year students as they find their footing their freshman year.
“While students will certainly develop other friendships, affinities, activities, etc., over the course of their four years, [the] initial groups that they come in in and that they’re housed with would form also an ongoing set of bonds with…especially in that critical first year,” she said.
As students enter their sophomore year, they will be allowed to choose between multiple different places to live, specialized by different interests. According to the email,
“fraternities, sororities and other academic interest-based and social residential groups will become a part of an enhanced vision of a living/learning community.” Each different residential community would be reviewed every year, and the college will consider “whether they are consistent with and advance the overall values and objectives of the College’s integrated residential life vision.”
“The goal [of the reaccreditation process] would be to…make sure all of the groups are contributing in a positive way to the overall social requirement,” Byerly said.