Balancing housing and hobbies

This week students must decide on their living arrangements for the next school year. For those who may not be intrigued by the usual choice between the towers and Mahoney/Pearson or Eaton there is another option.
Both Pearson and Eaton residential colleges offer special interest housing for students who share common backgrounds and beliefs. On these floors similar students have the opportunity to live together and simultaneously enhance their academic and social experiences. Each interest housing group establishes programming and services for the residents through funding provided by the university. There are no additional fees to live on a special interest housing floor.
“Special interest housing provides upperclassmen students a family community feel where everyone knows their neighbor and has their door open,” said Emily Vaughan, the program coordinator of special interest housing in the office of academic enhancement.
The current special interest housing floors include CASTLE (Canes Advocating a Substance Temperate Living Environment), La Casa; The International Quarter, STRIVE (Serving Together Reaching Integrity, Values and Engagement), and U Live U Learn. While La Casa and STRIVE are long standing groups in Mahoney, CASTLE and U Live U Learn were themes proposed by students.
Junior Cybele Safadi has enjoyed expanding her worldly knowledge in La Casa by participating in cultural food dinners and talks with professors. She plans to attend the play “Platanos and Collard Greens” on Feb. 26 with the other La Casa residents.
“The events bring us together, and there is always something exciting to do on the floor,” Safadi said.
Sophomore Jordan Balke, who currently resides on the CASTLE floor, hopes to continue living in special interest housing next year. She said that the atmosphere is completely different from non-special interest housing.
“Everyone supports each other, and you have the ability to take something you like and build upon it,” she said. “It is the environment of freshmen year, but with your own suite.”
As a substance-free community, CASTLE hosted a Halloween party in Mahoney as an alternative to partying at the Grove, and wants to become more involved with Safe Spring Break Week.
Aside from formally planned events, such as a trip to the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium to see the laser rock show on March 5, Balke looks forward to hanging out with her friends in the CASTLE community.
“We go to the Rathskeller on Wednesdays to play pool to get over the bump of the week,” she said.
Group applications for new and returning groups are due this Wednesday, Feb. 10 outlining theme, programming and goals for the community. The Special Interest Housing Selection Committee will select groups to make a presentation explaining how they will achieve their missions. Since limited space is available, the number of interest groups allowed next year depends on the number of applicants.
Special interest groups need 12-32 potential members to be considered for housing. In addition, residents are required to attend monthly meetings and participate in at least half of the floor events. Students can sign up to live in the current communities available until March 9. The groups for next year will be announced March 19.
Safadi recommends that students consider applying for special interest housing even if they only have a minimal interest in it.
“You can’t imagine everything that it has to offer,” she said. “The university puts money into doing things we like, and you get to learn more about Miami.”

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