The Village, now in its third year at the University, is thriving.
Formerly known as Small Group Housing, the Village offers students the unique perspective of living in interest groups of 4-24 members who share a common passion and strive to incorporate that into their everyday lives.
The original goals of the Village were to foster a seamless living and learning environment for students, and to complement the curriculum and in-class learning by allowing them to live in these interest groups.
Since the program’s inception and students taking residence in the new facilities at the northwest corner of the Hilltop Campus, the concept has continued to grow and evolve.
“I think the Village is a very attractive and functional addition to the Washington University campus,” said James W. Davis, Ph.D., professor of political science in Arts & Sciences and faculty associate at the Village. “Combining in one residential development living quarters, flexible dining areas, a number of classrooms and lots of activity spaces — including a small theater, computer labs and practice spaces — the Village clearly enriches the housing options available to undergraduates.”
In the fall semester, there were 320 students living in the Village, 75 of which were clustered in eight different interest groups. Those groups ranged from a book club to cultural cooking to Cast n’ Crew, a theater group.
“Although many students come into the Village through the usual housing-selection process, the Village is intended to be an obvious housing option for members of student groups,” Davis said. “We have the facilities for meetings and other activities, and we have the resources to support many of their programs.”
Cheryl Stephens, director of the Village, is optimistic that in time, the Village will become even more of a part of campus culture.
“There are a lot of great things happening here,” Stephens said. “We have a fantastic lunch service available in our cafeteria, great lounges for students to study or have meetings, and we have several new programs starting.”
Among those programs is a “Meet the Professor” event during which a faculty member talks about his or her academic interests, answers questions and eats dinner with students. Organized by Davis, Stephens said the program is “a wonderful way for students to connect with professors and get to know them on a level that may not be possible in the classroom setting.”
Of course, the ability for students to live in specialized interest groups is still a big part of the draw of the Village.
“What really makes living in the Village valuable for me is the fact that I live with a group of people with a common theme, but yet am exposed to so much diversity both internal and external to the group through our members and the other groups that make up the Village,” said junior Rich Hillesheim, president of the Village Student Assembly.
“It’s just a great balance of everything that college living has to offer, and I honestly think it has more potential than any other residential option here on campus.”
Justin X. Carroll, assistant vice chancellor for students and dean of students, thinks the Village offers a very exciting living alternative.
“Participation in one of the small groups affords students an opportunity to work closely with faculty and administrators, learn about current events and international cultures, provide service to the community and participate in the performing arts,” Carroll said.
Carroll and Stephens both realize that while not everyone who lives in the Village will choose to be a member of an interest group, they do want to continue focusing on the groups as the theme of the Village.
“We want to have quality groups that allow students to gain valuable leadership experience and provide them an opportunity to put on programs and be involved in something they are interested in,” Stephens said. “That benefits the students and also the entire University community.”
The Village is accepting group applications for next academic year. For more information, including the student-group application process, go online to village.wustl.edu.