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2 living groups join West quad

New living-learning groups will add a different dimension to campus life, starting in Fall 2005.

The two new programs are the Baldwin Scholars, a group of women selected for a four-year leadership program, and the Wellness Living Learning Group, a spin-off of Brown Dormitory"s substance-free housing for students interested in healthy living on West Campus. Rather than going through a rush process like selective living groups, these new groups will be elective--students will apply and then be selected by a committee.

Freshman women apply to join the Alice M. Baldwin Scholars program, and those selected will then live together their sophomore year. Since the program is in its first year, the current 18 freshman women will be the first group to live together.

The program is 'designed to be a supportive environment for them to be leaders,' said Colleen Scott, assistant director of the program. Living together will enhance this effort, she added.

The Baldwin Scholars will live in a block of rooms in Crowell Quadrangle, but each will be allowed to choose a roommate outside of the program. Because many of the scholars only met this year, the program"s coordinators thought it would be uncomfortable to make them choose roommates from amongst the small group this early, Scott added.

Freshman Megan Braley, one of the newly minted Baldwin Scholars, is looking forward to living with the other members of the program.

'They want this to be a support network for us and I think that living together is the only way we will get to be really close and trust each other,' Braley said. 'I"m really good friends with the girls in my dorm, so I look at this as a chance to make new friends.'

Although there is no official academic component during the sophomore year similar to the seminar required freshman year, the women living together will have money to plan academic programs.

One program idea under consideration is inviting Marie Wilson, president of The White House Project, co-creator of Take Our Daughters to Work Day and advocate of women"s empowerment, to come and speak on the power of women"s leadership.

The Wellness Living Learning Group will expand from Brown"s substance-free lifestyle to include other aspects of healthy living, such as nutrition and physical fitness.

The Wellness Group will work to incorporate the existing health programs on campus and take advantage of the network of support already here. Deb Lo Biondo and Lisa Beth Bergene--the group"s coordinators and assistant deans of students for residence life--hope to adjust the program according to the desires of the students. The members will be able to choose what aspect of healthy living they want to focus on and the program will be designed accordingly.

'Because the concept of Wellness is all about bringing together the various dimensions of what it means to be "healthy,"' Bergene wrote in an e-mail, 'we are really looking at this as a Duke [student] effort and not an RLHS initiative.'

The group tentatively has space in Crowell Quad for the upcoming school year and will be new for upperclassmen. The program for freshmen will continue in Brown and extend to Southgate as necessary next year.

The Wellness Group has not yet been completely developed but leaders hope to bring together different aspects of a healthy lifestyle. So far, student interest has been high, judging from an open forum held in Brown, Lo Biondo noted in an e-mail.

Freshman Melissa Fernley plans to apply for the Wellness Group to continue her experience of living in Brown as a freshman.

'The thing that makes us special [in Brown] is that we are all substance-free so we bond together and form a sense of community,' Fernley said. 'We will get people who are interested in more than just substance-free--people who are interested in nutrition and [physical activities] as well.'


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