The University Village and Apartment Area put the “U” in Unity

Both the University Village and the apartment area where University of Miami students reside have organized different programs for their inhabitants this semester which have helped bring about a sense of unity.

“We’ve been trying to use this common space to overcome the unique challenges that face resident assistants,” said Jenna Defrancesco, a graduate assistant who helps plan events in the apartment area and Eaton Residential College. “Particularly not having common hallways or communal indoor areas that allow for residents to basically interact with only their apartment-mates if they choose to do so.”

These group activities began Oct. 4 when the UV went on a kayaking excursion at Shake-A-Leg Miami in Coconut Grove. On their outing, the 18 residents were instructed by two guides on how to steer the kayak and were then escorted out into the water; the residents even got a chance to swim around the island. Junior Alicia Hartstack said she saw a “coral reef and fire sting ray”.

The following week, the apartment area and Eaton teamed up to present “The Moonlight Lounge,” a spin on typical coffee house events that gave residents a chance to showcase their talents.

“We’ve been trying to bring big programs to the apartment area instead of them having to walk over to Eaton just because they don’t have an indoor area to program,” Defrancesco said.

At the Moonlight Lounge, there were several performers including senior Cassandre Davilmar, an apartment area RA who recited original poetry, and sophomore Kailey Billings who sang a rendition of Jewel’s “You Were Meant for Me” along with a few personal compositions.

“It was nice, relaxed and a good way to meet people,” sophomore Allison Brown said.

All trips sponsored by the UV are a part of the housing payment, allowing for creating bonding experiences among residents free of charge.

“You might as well get your money’s worth” said senior Jamil Rich, a UV RA.

Residential colleges help “facilitate learning outside of class,” Davilmar said.

“I think it’s important for residents to really get something back for their housing investment,” Defrancesco says.

According to Coral Gables law, the UV is not allowed to have events of more than five people gathered in one spot. Therefore, the RAs try to find other ways to get residents further involved off-campus by taking advantage of what the city of Miami has to offer. The main goal of putting together different programs for residents is not only cater to people’s interests, but also to involve learning something new.