Checking in on freshmen in ResCo

Despite being removed from other first-year students, freshmen in Residential College are showing no signs of disadvantage after nearly two semesters at Butler University.

On Aug. 31, The Collegian published an article checking in on first-year students in the freshman unit of ResCo to compare their social experience with freshmen living in other residence halls during the beginning of the fall semester.

Now after nearly a full year at Butler, both groups of students seem to be equally involved.

“I think they’re starting to get their wings,” said Emily Welch, a sophomore history and anthropology major and resident assistant for the freshman unit in ResCo. “They’ve made friends, they’re more comfortable, they know campus, they know how classes work. They’ve gotten into the Butler groove.”

Despite being isolated from freshmen in other residence halls, freshmen living in ResCo said they don’t feel less involved than their peers.

“I’m pretty evenly involved as other people,” said Olivia Wolfe, a freshman international studies and Spanish major, said. “I feel like I have the same amount of things as other people.”

Many of the freshmen said Greek recruitment was a great way for them to connect with other students.

“[My roommate] and I went to rush week, and that really helped us meet a lot of people,” freshman business major Steven Gianakas said.

After two semesters of getting to know each other, some freshmen said they enjoyed the “close-knit” atmosphere more, while others said they would have preferred to be around more people in the other residence halls.

“We do have a much closer family here and closer connections with people,” Wolfe said. “I like having the few closer relationships than knowing everyone in my hallway and not having as many close ones.”

Other students feel like this semester has been better than the first.

“Definitely first semester I would have rather been in Ross,”  said freshman Daniel Young, an actuarial science and finance major. “Second semester is neutral, because the pros even out the cons.”

More students said the experience can be as good as the students make it.

“I feel like you get close bonds wherever you live; it’s just how much time you spend with people,” Gianakas said.

For freshman pharmacy major Trevor Phenis, living in Ross made him more comfortable with dorm life.

“Initially I was nervous about moving into the dorms and having to meet new people,” he said in an email.

“[Living in Ross] has allowed me to see things from another point of view.”

Passing out door stops to prop doors open was one way Welch encouraged a community atmosphere, she said.

“[Having doorstops] is helping people overcome a real structural barrier to building intimacy,” assistant professor of psychology Alison O’Malley said. “It’s a way to quickly establish common ground, common affiliations, information you don’t get with a closed door.”

The interaction between individual factors and the environment affects how students thrive in a situation like the freshmen in ResCo are experiencing, O’Malley said.

The way ResCo is designed may pose no barrier to an extroverted student, but more introverted students must put forth extra energy, she said.

Welch said programming challenges have changed with the semester.

“First semester a lot of the programming was around ‘Let’s do big group stuff and get to know each other,’” she said. “Second semester it’s more trying to get it planned around their other activities.”

Welch said first semester she felt it was important to push her residents into going to events and connecting, but said she knows now they can find some of those avenues for themselves.

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