Special interest housing is a fun, unique experience

Every spring, students must decide on their living arrangements for the following school year. For those who may want more out of their housing experience than the usual floor setup, there is another option.
Mahoney, Pearson and Eaton residential colleges offer special interest housing for students who share common backgrounds and beliefs. On these floors similar students have the opportunity to live together and simultaneously enhance their academic and social experiences. Each interest housing group establishes programming and services for the residents through funding provided by the university. There are no additional fees to live on a special interest housing floor.
“Special interest housing provides upperclassman students a family community feel where everyone knows their neighbor and has their door open,” said Emily Vaughan, the Program Coordinator of Special Interest Housing in the Office of Academic Enhancement.
The current special interest housing floors include CASTLE (Canes Advocating a Substance Temperate Living Environment); STRIVE (Serving Together Reaching Integrity, Values and Engagement), a student service community coordinated by the Butler Center for Service and Leadership; and U Live U Learn, where students pursue academic discourse beyond the classroom; The Audio Abode, an environment focused on exploring the applications of sound engineering; Foundations, a community focused on exploration of diversity; Hashi, an environment that encourages the exploration of diverse cultural viewpoints; Becoming a Healthier U, a group of students dedicated to creating a healthy, balanced life; and The Cultural U, who explore academic, career and cultural programming. While STRIVE is a long-standing group, CASTLE and U Live U Learn were themes proposed by students.
Rising senior Cybele Safadi has enjoyed expanding her worldly knowledge in special interest housing by participating in cultural food dinners and talks with professors. She has also attended plays like “Platanos and Collard Greens” with the other community residents.
“The events bring us together, and there is always something exciting to do on the floor,” Safadi said.
Rising junior Jordan Balke, who resided on the CASTLE floor, hopes to continue living in special interest housing next year.
“Everyone supports each other, and you have the ability to take something you like and build upon it,” she said. “It’s like freshman year, but with your own suite.”
As a substance-free community, CASTLE hosted a Halloween party as an alternative to partying at the Grove, and wants to become more involved with Safe Spring Break Week.
Aside from formally planned events, such as trips to the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium to see the laser rock show, Balke looks forward to hanging out with her friends in CASTLE.
“We go to the Rathskeller on Wednesdays to play pool to get over the bump of the week,” she said.
To join or form a special interest housing community, groups must submit applications each spring outlining theme, programming and goals for the community. The Special Interest Housing Selection Committee will select groups to make a presentation explaining how they will achieve their missions. Since limited space is available, the number of interest groups allowed depends on the number of applicants.
Special interest groups need 12-32 potential members to be considered for housing. In addition, residents are required to attend monthly meetings and participate in at least half of the floor events.
Safadi recommends that students consider applying for special interest housing even if they only have a minimal interest in it.
“You can’t imagine everything that it has to offer,” she said. “The university puts money into doing things we like, and you get to learn more about Miami.”
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Caitlin Good may be contacted at cgood@themiamihurricane.com.