By Patricia Pete ’15 / Photography by Ryan Gamma
Building community for first-year students
It’s a Friday night, well after 10:00 PM at Ringling College of Art and Design.
It’s usually around this time that I remind myself that I’m not eighteen anymore and that a relatively early bedtime will be beneficial for me. So, I turn off the television and head for the lights. That’s when I hear it: Laughter, cheering, new friendships forming. During a typical year, this sound is quite common, especially in a residence hall for first-year students, but this year it sounds an awful lot like hope and perseverance.
Of course, like any responsible, professional staff member who lives on campus would do, I peek out into the lounge of Ringling’s newest residence hall to make sure that the students having a good time are doing so safely. They are more than adequately distanced; every single one is wearing a mask; and their attention is focused on one of the big-screen televisions located in the building.
The Lego Movie. Classic.
These students are fine – better than fine. They are thriving together and doing exactly what those of us in Residence Life and Student Life want more than anything else – they are creating community through meaningful interactions and activities. This group is doing exactly that while housed in the brand new Greensboro Hall, a residence for first-year students.
I’m sure that when ground broke for the construction of the new residence hall, there was likely a plan for some sort of pomp and circumstance, a way to truly celebrate that our residence halls are joining the academics in being on the cutting-edge of creativity and design. Instead, Greensboro Hall was introduced to the community in a more gradual, quiet way.
The move-in process in September 2020 was less hectic than in years past, which offered new students and their parents the opportunity to take in the facilities and truly become excited for the coming semester. From the giant “Welcome” chalkboard outside the elevators to the colorful themes on each floor, everything about Greensboro Hall provides an experience like none other. The Resident Assistants within the building worked diligently to continue delivering on the promise of a Greensboro Hall living experience, foreshadowed by its residents’ first forays into the building. In one semester alone, there have been programs focused on the importance of self-care and mental health, a costume runway competition in which all two hundred residents had the opportunity to participate, and the redecoration of one of the floors to resemble a scene from the Pixar film, Cars.
“I worry about where I will live next year,” Sehui Kim, a first-year international student told me with a laugh. “Everything has just been so great. Greensboro Hall is really fantastic. I don’t want to go next year!”
Senior student Tamara Marshall, a resident assistant for the fifth floor, absolutely loves living in the new hall. “I don’t really have expectations when I wander into things, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I was shocked! I love the study rooms and comfy couches. The design is really good.” She went on to express that not only were the suites designed with creatives in mind, but also young adults. “The apartment style layout gives residents a better sense of independence. The building is also very trendy, which resonates well with the younger students. Everyone also loves the bathrooms! They’re huge!”
While having a new building has certainly helped boost morale among students, first-year students especially, I do believe it has been the Ringling spirit and hard work of students, professional staff, and faculty that have contributed to and assisted in creating a truly innovative space for these developing artists and designers. Greensboro Hall is just one more asset contributing to the amazing future ahead for Ringling College of Art and Design.