Colleges implement living collectives for arts, humanities and civic services
Two residential colleges will implement interest-based collective living programs next fall. Mathey College will implement a collective living program for a community of students with a shared interest for the arts and humanities on the third floor in Edwards Hall, while Whitman College will enact a similar initiative for a small group of students interested in civic engagement on the third floor of Fisher Hall.
Mathey’s community, which will be called the Edwards Collective, received slightly over 50 applications, though some withdrew their applications in favor of joining eating clubs. While Whitman’s collective received nine applications, four students ultimately decided to join the program.
The idea for the collectives came out of many conversations about how to enhance the residential colleges’ mission to “integrate the academic and intellectual with the residential and create opportunities for students outside of the classroom,” Dean of Whitman College Rebecca Graves-Bayazitoglu said.
Another inspiration was the idea of having opportunities and mentorship built into a specific community that encompassed students of all four class years, Mathey Director of Studies Kathleen Crown added.
Trips and other costs incurred for members of the collectives will be funded with outside funding rather than residential college funds, Graves-Bayazitoglu said. She explained that the colleges are looking into outside grants to finance the collectives.
To help students in the collectives achieve their respective goals, the Edwards Collective will partner with the Lewis Center for the Arts, while the Civic Engagement Community will collaborate with the Pace Center for Civic Engagement and other service-oriented University offices.
All rising juniors and seniors were invited to apply to both collectives. Rising sophomores in Mathey and Whitman were also invited to apply to their college’s collective. The application was not about evaluating academic qualifications or experience with the arts or service, but instead about gauging interest.
“In the Edwards Collective, we were looking for students who had artistic ambition … but also had a desire for community and connection,” Crown said.
“Genuine interest and motivation to be a part of the community is the overriding factor, I think, in that selection process,” Graves-Bayazitoglu added.
The Edwards Collective received unexpectedly high interest and admitted more students than it had originally intended.
The collectives are not expected to impact room availability in the residential colleges, Crown said, as any rising junior or senior from any college already has the ability to draw into Mathey or Whitman.
The focus on community in the collectives is a major element of the initiative to introduce interest-based collective living programs in the residential colleges. Some members of Whitman’s Civic Engagement Community expressed that they thought the presence of a community would encourage service work.
“In some ways, the Civic Engagement Community provides a framework for helping us be more intentional about giving back to the community. It’s also easier to do that kind of thing when you’re with other people — it makes it more fun and more effective,” Tobias Stoner ’16 said.
The Civic Engagement Community will have a great deal of freedom to collectively shape what the community does, according to Whitman College Council’s civic engagement chair Kristin Wilson ’14.
“I suspect … the Whitman collective is way less set in terms of what it’s going to do. I think both of these models are very flexible, but I think [with] the Whitman collective being smaller, and also being about civic engagement, which is already such a nebulous term, there’s just a lot to do in terms of seeing what it’s going to look like,” Wilson said.
Like other applicants, Wilson was interested in both collectives. To accommodate for interest in both areas, the two collectives will be encouraged to establish a relationship.
“Many students who are interested in the arts collective talked about their desire to do community-based projects … [such as] mural painting, poetry in the schools, so we expect there to be some collaboration,” Crown said.
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