Duke’s three new Living Learning Communities focus on wellness, queer culture, marine science

Students who are unsure of where to live for the fall 2022 semester may find their place in one of Duke’s three new Living Learning Communities, focused on marine science, holistic wellness and queer culture.

Junior Kiran Sundar is one of the student leaders involved in the creation of Marsha’s Home, an LLC that aims to provide a safe place for LGBTQIA+ students and allies to explore queer culture and spread knowledge about gender and sexuality to the wider campus community. 

About seven students were slated to live in the LLC’s Craven RF section as of Sunday evening, Sundar said, and a few more will be a part of the organization but not live in-house. 

While Sundar was a member of Nexus, an gender-neutral selective living group centered around celebrating members’ sexualities and genders, other students never got to experience the group. 

First-year J Shoemaker is one of those students. Shoemaker was frustrated at the way that “certain scholarship and FOCUS programs override preferences for gender-neutral housing.” Marsha’s Home will provide a new way for sophomores, juniors and seniors to access housing that feels comfortable for them.

“I know it’ll be a great community, and a great way for me to feel supported in my living environment, and I think it’ll feel the same for everyone else,” Shoemaker said.

As part of the requirements to be an LLC, members must teach a house course available to all members of the community. Next year’s house course will center on queer representation in the media, Shoemaker said. Programming will include a variety of social and intellectual opportunities including queer media watch parties, queer speakers and a possible collaboration with the Pauli Murray Center. 

For Senior Maddie Paris, the transition back to campus was difficult after spending four semesters away at the Duke University Marine Lab. 

“You’re going from a community of twenty undergraduates all eating the same meals, taking the same classes, living in the same dorms. And then you come to main campus, where everything is more spread out, and it’s hard to feel that community,” Paris said.

This difficult transition inspired the creation of the Fouling Community, which will provide a home base and center of intellectual engagement for students interested in marine science. 

“When a lot of people think of Duke, their initial thought is not marine science even though we have some of the best marine science programs in the nation,” junior Nick Kaney said. “We’re hoping for the LLC to become this center space where we can have everyone come together who likes marine science.” 

As of Monday, about seven students were slated to live in the Fouling Community’s section in Edens dormitory. Programming activities include speakers and field trips to museums, and the LLC common room will serve as a meeting space for marine science-related student groups.

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The Wellness LLC aims to create a safe space for students who wish to live substance free or focus on creating a healthy relationship with substances, and for students who want to support their peers in doing so.

Currently the largest of the three new living groups, the LLC has had 26 applicants so far, according to Thomas Szigethy, associate dean of students, director of DuWell and one of the advisors for the group. 

“Wellness is more than the absence of sickness and more than going to the gym three times a week and eating really healthy,” Szigethy said. The Wellness LLC, he explained, will be about cultivating holistic wellness. Part of that mission includes serving as a safe space for students who do not wish to engage in substance abuse or only partake in substances at a moderate level. 

Although programming will only be decided once the cohort of students has been finalized, Szigethy said that it will focus on providing different ways for students to experience wellness.

Szigethy said that he hopes the students living in the Wellness LLC will find that they are better-equipped to engage in their academics. 

“I want to give the students as many tools as possible,” he said. 

Applications for some LLCs are not yet closed. Information can be found on the Housing and Residence Life website.

Anna Zolotor
| News Editor

Anna Zolotor is a Trinity junior and news editor of The Chronicle’s 117th volume.