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International Community Moving to Chalmers

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By Shannon Yard

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Catawba Hall at Roanoke College was built in the mid-1960s with the intent of becoming a new fraternity house. Now, it is a unique building on campus that is home to the Global Village Living and Learning Community.

The LLC provides an enriching experience for both international and American students to live together and learn about each other’s’ cultures. Students living in the community work together to become well-informed leaders and contributors during and after college. Not every student at Roanoke gets to be a part of this, but the ones that do love it and cherish it.

Chalmers Hall was bought by the college in 1950 and was originally a Sunday school room in accordance with the college’s Lutheran History. This was before it underwent extensive renovations ten years later with the fraternity house goal in mind.

The Multicultural LLC was instituted to bring students of different races and ethnicities together to share their stories and the problems that face underrepresented groups. Students in the Multicultural LLC raise awareness about inequality and the impact of race and ethnicity on groups and individuals, promoting their motto, “Diversity means all of us!”

Without the input and opinions of those who reside in the LLCs, Residence Life and LLC advisers recently informed residents of Catawba and Chalmers that the Global Village LLC, a new combination of the two, will be moved to the second and third floors of Chalmers next year, combining the two living spaces. The execution of the merger was handled incorrectly.

“We didn’t know. We didn’t have say,” said sophomore Leah Weinstein, a current resident of Catawba.

This information was only followed by more unexpected news: Catawba will be renovated over the summer of 2016 and will be the home to the new Health and Wellness LLC  on campus, an option available for students who are interested in healthy living and fitness.

Many residents of Catawba and Chalmers feel that there will be challenges when trying to combine two vastly different, diverse communities in the same building. Each building has its own individual character on campus. In Catawba, international students are typically in a double with an American student. There are two huge common rooms that foster conversation and connections between residents. On the other hand, Chalmers is primarily made up of singles, and the common rooms are more scattered. This in itself will change the dynamic of the communities.

Others are concerned that the college is trying to hide the little bit of diversity that we have. Think about it: do you actually know where Chalmers is? It’s on the corner of High and Clay Street between Health Services and West Hall. Junior Lynn Luckenbaugh, a resident of Chalmers, believes that we need to be spreading diversity throughout campus, not sending it to one small area.

Luckenbaugh said, “The worst thing about this is that Catawba is losing their home. If we were losing our home, we would be pretty upset.”

We are a liberal arts college, which means we value broadening our knowledge and exposing ourselves to new ideas. Without diversity, we cannot become members of a society in which we serve others, commit ourselves to community, live lives of our own personal distinction, and achieve academic excellence in a way that empowers and connects people from all around the globe.