Good vibes to good food: Live Lehigh communities provide alternative housing

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Lehigh’s Live Lehigh communities are thematic, alternative housing options for students looking to pursue particular passions and live among peers who share their interests.

Ashley Lemmons, the assistant dean and director of residence life said, the purpose of the themed resident communities is to connect students together who are passionate about similar topics.

“It has been an amazing experience,” said Frankie Rodriguez, ’19, co-creator of the Creative Vibes community. “There have been times where I went into the living room and everyone is singing in harmony. I go down to the studio and everyone is laying down tracks. It has only been two weeks, but it feels like we are a whole big family now.”

Each themed community has an adviser and a Gryphon to ensure that the members are mentored and adhere to university policy.

Last year these communities had been limited to Dravo House. This year, however, there was a major restructuring of the system.

The Office of Residence Life separated the communities for the first time and moved them into other residence halls to better integrate these communities within the Lehigh culture.

“In the past we have called all the thematic communities Live Lehigh, but this year we call every space Live Lehigh because we want to give students the understanding that you ‘live Lehigh’ whether you live in thematic communities or not,” Lemmons said. “Live Lehigh is everywhere.”

While there are communities in all on-campus residences aside from Farrington Square, not all students in a given residence hall are a part of that community. Students can choose the community they wish to be a part of and go through an application process to join.

There are two types of thematic communities. The first type is university-driven and exclusively for first-year students. These communities were created by the university and consistent of groups such as: CHOICE, Creative Commons and Outdoor Adventure.

The second type of communities are student-driven and consist of upperclassmen who live in Warren Square. These communities are thought up by students.

In order for students to create a Live Lehigh community, they must first come up with a theme and present it to the Office of Residence Life. Then, if the idea gets approved, they must find members to fill the empty house. If the community gains enough membership it will be approved for the following fall semester.

Courtney Stephens, the associate director of residence life, said the Office of Residence Life is hoping the Live Lehigh communities can engage the student population. They want students to feel welcomed on campus and encourage students to provide input in to make improvements.

Logan Herr, ’18, the creator of the Fit Living community, said he created the community with his friends as an alternative to Greek life. He and his friends wanted a place where they are encouraged to pursue an active, healthy lifestyle and build relationships with people who share similar values.

Herr also said that interest in the Fit Living community has greatly increased since last year.

“The first year it was a struggle to find members,” Herr said. “Now we have a hard time trying to find space for all the new people that want to join.”

Two new communities were created this year — the Culinary Community, dedicated to cooking, eating and all related food activities, and the Creative Vibes community, which is dedicated to studying and understanding the arts.

“Whenever I walk into the house someone is cooking,” said Sage Chasen, ’19, the creator of the Culinary Community. “It is great to go back to a place where I really feel at home.”

Donterrius Walker, ’19, co-creator of Creative Vibes, said he created the community so artists would have a place to freely express their ideas and create new works that they can be proud of. Additionally, he wanted to make Lehigh a more open space for a wide range of artists.

Walker said he learned how to have a more free and open mind when working with people, which greatly improved his art.

Since the student-run communities are located so close to each other, the students in each community are able to collaborate ideas in order to learn more. The Culinary and Creative Vibes communities are working together to host a block party for all students to enjoy. Walker said both communities encourage and challenge each other to create something great.

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