Unveiling the Common Interest Communities

Starting this fall, the Arches program will no longer monopolize the residence community scene at Manhattan College. New common interest communities centered on shared themes will allow students to share extracurricular and academic experiences while living together on the same floor.

“This will be a pilot year so it is a very exciting year to be a part of a common interest community,” Andrew Weingarten, director of Residence Life, said.

“Students in them now will be able to help develop and shape the communities and have the opportunity to really leave their own mark.”

During the housing selection process last spring, the Office of Residence Life unveiled its common interest community plans. Over the summer, Residence Life staff along with resident assistants continued to organize, plan and finalize what these communities would look like for the fall.

“Our primary focus over the summer was recruitment,” Weingarten said. “Our intent all along was to have students do a lot of the planning and development for the common interest communities, and sure enough they got a lot of this done throughout the spring 2015 semester, especially for Nuestra Casa, Performing Arts, and Entrepreneurship.”

The locations of these communities in the various residence halls have also been finalized.

Weingarten said that the Performing Arts & Visual Culture community is located on the 10th floor of Lee Hall. The Entrepreneurship, Nuestra Casa and Environmental Issues & Sustainability communities are on the 11th, 10th, and third floors of Horan, respectively.

“Each community has between 10 and 20 students officially signed up so there are certainly other students living on these floors,” Weingarten said. “We had a lot of interest from our incoming freshmen and I am pleased that we were able to include many of them.”

However, students from all four years and from all different backgrounds were included in order to create a well rounded environment, and so that new ideas can be fostered.

While programming is not finalized for any of the communities, Residence Life and resident assistants in charge of the respective communities have outlined some of their goals for the year. Weingarten said that students involved will be offered extra programming, trips, faculty involvement and other extracurricular and co-curricular activities.

“I hope that the students in the communities enjoy themselves and the added opportunities to explore their interests on their residence hall floors,” Weingarten said.

Each community is also led by a faculty advisor in order to help facilitate and guide programming as well as offer administrative support.

Carolyn Predmore, Ph.D. and professor of management and marketing, has taken on the role of leading the Entrepreneurship community.

“When I heard that there could be a CIC for entrepreneurship on campus and there was a need for a faculty advisor, I volunteered,” Predmore said.

“I am excited about the community as it gives space for some like minded people to be together and talk. Ideas come from talking together in diverse groups,” Predmore said. “We need everyone – all our majors – to be in teams to help bring that diversity of experience, skills and knowledge to create the new. This CIC gives us that start.”

Predmore said that the CIC will be having speakers, exercises and opportunities for students to start learning how to be creative, yet mindful of the emotional state of others as to better understand consumer behavior.

Professors and students alike are excited about the potential for these communities in term of building a more cohesive and aware campus, especially in the residence halls.

“The living in community gives time for informal meetings with people of like interests,” Predmore said. “Together we can be more than our individual parts.”

Nuestra Casa, the community which focuses on students interested in Latino culture and the Spanish language, is located on the tenth floor of Horan and is led by resident assistants Michelle Beltran and Aleysha Taveras.

Students in the community are encouraged to speak as much as possible in Spanish in order to practice as well as to promote cultural awareness.

“We are excited to educate the campus on issues facing Latinos in and outside the US as well as celebrate Hispanic heritage through our programming,” Beltran said.

She said she plans to hold monthly ‘cenas,’ or dinners, on her floor to replicate strong family ties in Hispanic cultures. “Even though our official community is small, we hope to unite the floor in a way that will increase appreciation for all cultures,” Beltran said.