Spanish living-learning residence floor to open next fall

Straz Hall will host its second co-ed floor for members of the Spanish living-learning community.
Straz Hall will host its second co-ed floor for members of the Spanish living-learning community. Photo by Matthew Serafin/

James McMahon, associate vice president for Student Affairs, said he was interested in creating a living space for students wanting to immerse themselves in a foreign language.

After mulling over the concept he first heard in a meeting a few years ago, McMahon contacted Anne Pasero, department chair of foreign languages and literature, and they put it into action.

Starting next fall, Marquette will offer a Spanish language and cultures living-learning community housed on one co-ed floor in Straz Tower, separated by gender in opposite wings.

“When you walk around campus, you often hear people talking in Spanish,” McMahon said. “And if that’s their preferred language, I think it’s a nice opportunity for them to live with similar kinds of students, in terms of language, where they can speak Spanish.”

McMahon suggested the program would not only be open to students majoring in Spanish, but also people considering studying abroad in a Spanish-speaking country. He said he thinks allowing Spanish majors to surround themselves with people who speak it fluently would be a “tremendous” opportunity.

Students living on this floor will be expected to converse in Spanish frequently as well as participate in events and activities, both on campus and in Milwaukee, centered on the language and Hispanic cultures.

McMahon said the community will be small in its first year, as it is open to only 24 students.

“I expect this program will grow over coming years as student interest grows,” McMahon said. “We have already received applications for this program even though the deadline is not until late February, and we have had several students express their interest in this program.”

Marquette is not the first university to come up with a program like this. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Texas A&M University offers similar living spaces for students.

This is also not the first living-learning community implemented at Marquette. Students have the option to join the Dorothy Day social justice community in Straz Tower and the “inclusive leadership commUNITY” in McCormick Hall.

“Living-learning communities are high impact programs that promote student success and whether it is language, community or social justice, these kinds of programs are important,” McMahon said. “We are always looking to expand and create these because I think it makes a difference in the success of the students.”

Pasero could not be reached for comment before press time. Sophomore students who are native or heritage Spanish speakers or those who have completed, placed out or are enrolled in Spanish 3001 during the fall 2015 semester are eligible to live in this community. Applicants are required to complete an essay, submit a letter of recommendation and possibly attend a personal interview.

Applications are due Feb. 27, and prospective students will be notified of their acceptance or denial prior to the housing sign-up process in March.