Grace J Bromage ‘23
In Fall 2023, Holy Cross will pilot its first living-learning community. This dorm hall, located at Ciampi, will be called the Wellbeing Living Learning Community, with its emphasis on housing students who want to live a well-life. The proposed mission statement of this hall states that “students in the Wellbeing Living Learning Community at Ciampi Hall will create a residential community with moderation and purpose where they engage and explore wellbeing resources and opportunities with classmates who value personal wellbeing and seek to live a balanced and intentional lifestyle.”
This new hall will house 60 to 70 beds and be open to all students regardless of class year. Similar to Loyola, each room will be a standard double with a private bathroom. However, due to the small size and the specialized mission of this dorm, housing in Ciampi Hall will only be available through an online application. Students who apply and are accepted to the program will be able to select rooms in Ciampi Hall during the normal housing process.
However, just because a student doesn’t live in Ciampi doesn’t mean that they will be excluded from the well-being programs the hall will offer. The main floor will be open to all students, with card restrictions to reach the upper, residential floors. The programming will most likely be run by various campus offices including RAs, the chaplains, OSI, peer mentor groups, health services, and counseling services. Dean Edwin Coolbaugh, the Director of Residence Life and Housing, hopes that this main floor will also include meditation spaces where students can go to reflect and relax.
“I hope this dorm will offer another resource on campus where students can go,” said Dean Coolbaugh. “Students go to the library to study and Coolbeans to socialize but these places are too chaotic or loud too find center. I hope with this hall students can find quiet places just to sit and meditate, maybe with a prayer room and meditation area. We’re taking all the ideas of what we want to see on campus.”
Dean Coolbaugh explained that this program initially developed out of a need for substance-free housing which was identified last spring by Dean Paul Irish and Elizabeth Drexler-Hines, the director of Student Wellness. These two staff members noticed a large focus group of students who wanted a substance-free housing option. As a result of the conversations they had with students, a substance-free community was set up in Loyola 4 and has had a positive first year. The meetings with this focus group of students identified another student need: wellness.
To maintain the successful substance-free community in Loyola 4 while also honoring the students’ new call for a community centered around student mental and physical wellness, staff began to plan the Wellbeing Living Learning Community in Ciampi.
“The overall dynamic of the focus group was that students were looking for more work-life balance,” said Dean Coolbaugh. “This building will be based on wellness. That doesn’t exclude someone who is or isn’t substance free. Well-life is subjective, whether that means drinking moderately or abstaining.”
Although this has been the first living-learning community that Holy Cross has created, Dean Coolbaugh hopes it won’t be the last.
“I hope that this is the beginning of Holy Cross having special interest housing,” he said. “We have Montserrat clusters but no upperclassmen special interest housing. In the future, someone might want to live in a residence hall because of its special interest housing and not just because of location.”
Any new special interest housing projects will be led by student feedback, just as the Wellbeing Living Learning Community has been.
“Lots of ideas will come from students,” said Dean Coolbaugh. “Students cried out that they wanted substance-free and well-being options. We will have much more successful programming with student input.”
Featured image courtesy of Holy Cross : Ciampi Hall
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