A new student-led Living Learning Community (LLC) called the Hall for Change will offer residents opportunities to discuss current events, raise awareness of social justice issues and participate in service.
Freshman Amy Belfer was inspired to create a place for Elon University students to come together to learn more about what is happening on campus, in the local community and internationally.
Belfer said she realized the university did not have a social justice house like other universities. Despite the fact that there are multiple organizations on campus focused on specific issues, she discovered there is a lack of broad social justice groups and human rights groups for students to join.
“It’s just really important, especially for our generation, to be getting involved because we’re the ones that can really make a change,” Belfer said.
Amy Johnson, assistant professor of history and head of the poverty and social justice minor, taught Belfer in an “Introduction to Poverty Studies” course last fall. Johnson credits the creation of the hall to Belfer’s dedication.
“She decided she wanted to do something to have a more sustained presence for social justice work on campus,” Johnson said. “And not just sustained, because there are lots of minors and programming around issues of social justice — she wanted something where the students could more easily interact with one another.”
According to her conversations with Belfer, Johnson said one of the key components of the LLC will be having people from diverse backgrounds living together and learning from each other.
“I know that she’s also really interested in having people who have never really thought about community engagement and thought about social justice to have this opportunity to learn from people who were really deeply involved,” Johnson said. “So those are two things that I know she’s really kind of passionate about.”
The new LLC will be on the second floor of one of the Colonnades residence halls, on the same floor as the other LLC of which Belfer will be the resident assistant, the gender and sexuality LLC.
Belfer said that because her inspiration for this project coincided with the start of new student-directed living learning programs at the university, the process of getting the Hall for Change off the ground wasn’t too difficult.
According to Belfer, when she met to discuss details with Laura Arroyo, associate director of Residence Life for Residential Education, Arroyo was highly supportive of the idea of creating an LLC.
Most of the problems Belfer ran into had to do with arranging the housing for the students interested, especially because the floor only has singles and pods, which are not as affordable as living arrangements in other campus neighborhoods.
But Belfer and Arroyo overcame the struggles of getting the idea off the ground.
Activities that members of the Hall for Change can participate in might include bringing in speakers, watching documentaries or going to advocacy events in accordance with the theme of any given month. Such themes might include voting rights, access to education or the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
For freshman Bridgette Agbozo, the Hall for Change will provide an environment in which she can become more knowledgeable about something she is already interested in.
“I want to be around others who have that same passion,” she said. “The idea of a student-directed community is intriguing. The fact that Elon is allowing students to see their ideas in action shows me that the students are a priority.”
Belfer emphasized the importance of staying informed and becoming educated on different topics pertaining to social justice and inclusivity.
“We have the perfect opportunity to stand up if we really join together and really make a difference,” she said.
Though Johnson said the Hall for Change is not officially a part of the poverty and social justice minor, the department wants to encourage its students to move into the LLC.
“Just like one of the university initiatives, part of what we want to do with poverty and social justice is bridge different kinds of communities, so for us, that would be really wonderful,” Johnson said. “But it is not officially part of the minor at this point.”
Because this LLC is student-led, the process to become a member is different from the typical LLC application the university sends to students.
To get involved, students are encouraged to email Belfer with their name and Datatel number.