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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

USC Dorms Transition into Residential Colleges

USC Housing hopes to give students a broader, more well-rounded freshman on-campus dorm life experience.

All USC freshman dorms will be converted into Residential Colleges by the fall of 2012, according to USC Housing.

By the time the USC freshman class of 2016 arrives in August, all on-campus housing options will have live-in faculty to "create a lively community that encourages the exploration of issues via the participation in the West Area Diversity Month and a variety of living-learning opportunities for residents," according to the USC Housing website. 

Students at USC welcome faculty in their home away from home, their freshmen dorms.
Students at USC welcome faculty in their home away from home, their freshmen dorms.

The USC Office of Residential Education aims to provide programs within the Residential Colleges that will integrate an active social setting, cultural activities and academic excellence into a living experience that enriches and teaches.

A few freshman dorms have already been converted into Residential Colleges. New Residential College, North Residential College, University Residential College at Birnkrant, Arts and Humanities Residential College at Parkside and International Residential College at Parkside have already experienced all the added amenities such as an increased access to funding, personal connection with the USC staff, weekly community dinners, and monthly field trips around L.A.

The transition will also allow most freshman, if not all, to live on campus.

The six other dorms, including Webb Tower, which is currently a sophomore apartment, will be converted by next year.

Yimu Xue, a Residential Advisor at New North, encourages all residents to attend the dinners every Tuesday with Faculty Master Thomas Gustafson, an Associate Professor of English and American Studies. 

"These dinners give students room to interact with faculty on a personal basis and bond with the North Area community," she said. 

Many of the dinners often feature musical entertainment or distinguished university guests. Just two weeks ago, New Residential College hosted Lane Kiffin, USC's Head football coach.

While some current freshmen believe that live-in staff will squash their college freedom and fun, others are quick to outweigh the positives associated with close-knit professor-student relationships. 

Birnkrant resident Nicole Runkle describes her faculty advisor as a sweet, accessible addition to the Birnkrant family.

"I personally don't go to a lot of the dinners, but Stan is always opening up his apartment for movie nights and big events like the Superbowl," she said. "He somehow remembers all of our names."

Residential Advisors working in current freshman dorms look forward to the transition into Residential Colleges.

Jenny Ham, a freshman Residential Advisor in Marks Tower, thinks that the transition will allow students to interact with professors on a more casual basis, regardless of their major.

"As a freshman, it can be hard to make personal connections in large General Education courses. Having a professor who lives in your same building makes the freshman transition much easier."

Angela Izmirian, the Residential Coordinator of New Residential College agrees.

"I think the Residential Colleges expose students to the other side of professors and teach them that they are normal people with interests outside their academic field."

She believes that when students can find a personal connection to the school, it makes their dorm a home away from home.

USC Housing prides itself for being one of the few U.S. universities that focus on creating a well-rounded college experience for students. The residential college model is based on British and Ivy League models.

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