What Do You Want from University? / What I Found in the Collins LLC

I’ve lived in the Collins Living Learning Center for two years and couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else. When I signed on for a second year in the residence halls, everyone at home thought I was crazy; no air conditioning! Residence halls are temporary housing until you can move out. I’d have to share spaces and have a roommate! I argue, however, that there are very valuable things on campus; this is what I found in the Collins LLC.

Student involvement is an enormous buzzword on any campus – are you Involved? How do you Get Involved? And once you are Involved, where do you stand? Involvement is scary because it’s not what many students expect from university – most, I would say, think the primary function of education is to go to class and make some friends along the way. I’ve always thought that it’s what you do and what you make while at school that really forms your education.

This is what I found in the Collins Living Learning Center – a place that’s helped me make incredible things and pushed me to grow as a person, not just as a student. When I came to university, I expected to go to class and make some friends along the way. Now, almost two years later, I feel like I can do anything.

To explain what’s different about Collins: nearly all activities in the hall are student sponsored and student run. This means that if you would like to do something, there will be overwhelming means of support for you. If I would like to hold a film screening, I can get a room reserved, posters made, dinner catered, and anything else I would need for my event. If I want to teach a course or hold a workshop (I teach film photography at Collins, for example), there is an unimaginable amount of funding for my project. I’ve seen others create everything from music festivals (featuring current and former residents) to an organization promoting healthy, sustainable diets – with dinner served. Our in-center coffee shop, the Cheshire Café, began selling coffee from a closet before it became an entirely student-staffed and student-managed small business. Current community initiatives include a push to renovate a small basement kitchen and the creation of a mixed-gender floor in one of our buildings.

Next year, I’ll be leaving Collins for an RA position in Foster. This doesn’t mean that I’m done with Collins, however. As I myself learned from upperclassmen last year, this year I see new students becoming – dare I say it – Involved with our help. I know that wherever their education takes them – student radio, publishing, journalism, international study, or hard science – they will have been well prepared by the Collins LLC.

Name: Hugh Donkin
Hometown: West Lafayette
Degree and Major: Telecommunications
Graduation Year: 2015

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