Black Living Learning Community begins on campus

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The new community is located in Carpenter Tower

Marquette University has started its first Black Living Learning Community on campus to give Black students the opportunity to come together and form a community.

“Living here gives me a sense of contentment,” Aniya Lentz, a student in the Black Living Learning Community and a first-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences, said.

The official title of the Black LLC is “Umoja: Black Living Learning Community.” Umoja means unity in Swahili.

The implementation of this LLC came after the administration’s talks about diversity and inclusion on campus with Black Student Council last year.

Living Learning Communities are special housing options that allow students to live with other students with similar interests or who are studying within the same majors.

Umoja is the fifth LLC at Marquette. The other four LLCs are the Nursing Community which is housed in Carpenter Hall, the Engineering Community in Eckstein Hall, as well as the Honors Community and Nuestro Hogar, meaning “Our Home,” in Straz Tower.

“Living Learning Communities have been shown to be highly beneficial for college students and LLCs specifically, help students with transition, a deeper sense of learning and retention,” Tracy Gerth-Antoniewicz, assistant director of residence life education, said.

Students who are a part of the Black LLC applied through their housing application, and they are all housed on the 16th floor of Carpenter Tower.

“Umoja creates a space to celebrate Black excellence and Black joy, while also allowing for intentional conversation as we strive for racial justice and an improved Black student experience on campus and in our community,” Samira Payne, director of Black Student Initiatives, said.

For this first year, the Black LLC is only available for first-year students, with hopes to expand to sophomores next school year.

The LLC currently consists of 20 first-year students who applied as part of their housing application last year.

“Being a part of the Black LLC is a great experience for freshman people of color, especially since there’s only a handful of Black students at Marquette,” Lentz said.

Students will be required to take Foundations of Rhetoric and Texts, Social Systems and Values, both taught by associate professor of English, Cedric Burrows.

“The students seem to be engaged in the topics and conversations are very good,” Burrows said. “It seems that students feel that they can have room to say things without feeling like they’re going to be censored in some form.”

Foundations of Rhetoric is a process-based introduction to applying rhetorical principles to source-based writing and speaking with multimedia for diverse audiences. Specifically, in this version of the course, students will be writing about African American life.

In Texts, Social Systems and Values, students will focus on developing skills to engage with people, communities and systems of value.

Students will be studying autobiographies from the civil rights movement and learn how to analyze sources and implications of inequity and take steps to create more inclusive and collaborative social and professional processes.

Umoja also leads discussions concerning LGBTQ+, intersectionality and other societal issues.

“I want the LLC to be an instant safe space when my residents get back from class and for them to know that they have a home here at Marquette University, when some days it may not feel like it,” Darrell Dufek, resident assistant for the Black LLC and a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said.

Residence Life staff and faculty will work to plan events to support the community throughout the year.

“To see my residents instantaneously form a community and bond within the first few weeks of this school year has been astounding,” Dufek said.

This story was written by Bailey Striepling. She can be reached at bailey.striepling@marquette.edu.