New initiative aims to unite SJU students

St. John’s University unveiled a new learning program this semester designed to enrich academic interests and career opportunities for all students who have undecided majors.
The plan includes a series of out-of-classroom academic activities aimed to foster socialization between students, widen faculty-student relationships, and contribute to the university’s effort to raise the retention rate.

Approximately 2,100 students are enrolled in the program which includes both commuter and resident students who are placed in one of nineteen themed or major clusters.
These clusters provide an opportunity for students to interact with others who share their same interests or fields of study.
Students will also benefit from interaction with more than 29 faculty members who support and develop the activities students will be involved in.

All participating students are enrolled in two classes together according to their cluster and those who are residents are housed by similar major or college said Jacqueline Grogan, Director of the LC initiative on how the program is organized. Commuter students are allowed access in and out of the Resident Village where the learning communities are based and are free to enroll in any activity resident students develop or are involved in.

The initiative is an expansion of Resident Life’s Living Learning Community, which brought together students with the same academic interests into one community living in the Residence Village. The LC initiative expands that to include commuter students.

“What we found with the Living Learning Communities was that it tended to have a 6 to 8 point higher student retention rate than the average resident population rate,” said Father James J. Maher, Vice President of the Division of Student Affairs. “What we sought to do this past year and this current year is to try to continue some of the earlier success that was established and try to extend that to as many students as we could.”

Although the program was developed to aid undecided majors, Grogan hopes it will one day develop into a bridge to unite all students with the same common interests.

Students involved in the initiative will have the opportunity to participate in events such as visiting the Bodies Exhibit, attending plays off and on Broadway, and learning from guest speakers.

These activities will be supported and promoted by Peer Academic Leaders, who will provide a link for outside students and the LC. These leaders, who are students with similar interests, would be involved with the LC on a regular basis.

“I think the program is a great opportunity because it allows you to network and get a real feel for what you’re interested in outside of class,” said junior Lexi Torres. “This gives you a chance to see beforehand if it’s something you really want to do.”

Father Maher supports and encourages all students to participate and emphasized the valuable opportunity the program provided for all students on campus.

“We hope that in some way it really contributes to the continual transformation that is already ongoing on campus with the many programs, building constructions, and initiatives that are in place,” he said. “We also hope that this will greatly contribute to students being happier at St. John’s and growing not only academically and socially but also spiritually.”

Any student interested in LC events can still participate by joining through DaSilva Hall Room 103 in the Residence Village.