Program Will Double Number of RAs per floor and Partner Them With “Learning Assistants” to Enhance Academic Programming New York University today announced a pilot program to create a living-learning community in one of its residence halls. Called the “Weinstein Learning Initiative,” the program, which began this fall, is a collaborative effort between the College of Arts and Science (CAS) and the Department of Housing and Residence Life (DHRL). The initiative is designed to reduce barriers and create synergies between the University’s academic programs and its student housing system.

The program links “Learning Assistants” (LAs) – specially-trained CAS upperclassmen and women – with an increased number of Resident Assistants (RAs) on each floor. Acting in partnership, the Learning Assistant and the RA’s will actively promote academic engagement and involvement and will add more academic programming to student activities in the residence hall. In addition, they will reach out to those who are having academic difficulties, and engage them and all students in the programs and resources of the College Learning Center, which was established in Weinstein Residence Hall four years ago and which will have expanded hours this year.

In addition, CAS and DHRL will seek greater faculty involvement in the residence hall in the form of seminars, informal gatherings, and special floor dinners for students and their professors. The program will be developed during the year by a committee that includes student representatives from the hall council, RAs, LAs, and representatives from CAS and DHRL.

The initiative will involve all freshmen in Weinstein, regardless of school. They were alerted about the new program via a joint letter from CAS and DHRL and through announcements at check-in tables located at the entrance of the facilities.

Matthew Santirocco, dean of the College of Arts and Science, said, “We are a community of learners, and our residence halls, no less than our classrooms, should support that activity. During the Presidential transition and then over the summer, a team of students, faculty, and administrators began to look at ways of overcoming some of the barriers that exist here, especially those that separate student life from academic life. This new collaboration between the College and Residence Life will allow us to build connections which will strengthen our community and enhance the quality of life for our students. If this project is successful, it can be introduced elsewhere, perhaps at one of our residences around Union Square.”

Tom Ellett, the University’s director of housing, said, “The expansion of NYU’s housing system – a response to a much more geographically diverse student body – has been enormous. We now house some 12,000 students, more than twice as many as we did a dozen years ago. In a real estate market like New York City, that is really saying something.

“Having built a large residential community in such a short time, we now need to focus our energies on better integrating it with our core mission – education and scholarship. And this pilot program is one of those steps. We want to develop clear linkages between academic life and residential life and in so doing improve both.”

Weinstein Residence Hall houses some 550 freshmen. Weinstein residents interested in learning more should contact their Resident Assistant or visit the College Learning Center.

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