The first year of life here at Trinity can be full of awkward silences, especially after incoming students run out of questions like “What’s your major?” and “Where are you from? Houston?”
The First-Year Experience course (commonly known as FYE), not only provides the immersive educational experience of a lifetime, but serves to connect first-years through conversation and community. The original (and some say most grueling) FYE is HUMA: Great Books of the Ancient World (just HUMA for short). This particular course also has its own hall in the first-year residence area. During my first year, it was the entire second floor of Alfred-Herff Beze (Beze) residence hall, and while Beze is generally derided as “sleazy” and “gross” just because it’s one of the last dorms to be renovated, I fell in love with my hall that year “” because of its abundance of natural light, its proximity to Mabee and, of course, my fellow HUMA classmates. That’s just my own experience, though, and while I couldn’t imagine my HUMA experience without my HUMA suitemates and hallmates, I wanted to find out how people outside of the hall or the HUMA lifestyle perceived our little social and academic bubble.
Some of the criticism I heard from non-HUMA hall first-years during my time in Beze was based around the hall’s exclusive nature. Since most of my friends and classmates, especially during my first semester, all lived on the same floor, I had little reason to leave Beze to seek out newer connections with people I didn’t have classes in common with. However, on the flip side of this exclusive, tight-knit community are the HUMA students who lived in other halls. I asked Sarosha Hemani, an ex-HUMA student who lived in Harold D. Herndon Hall during her first year at Trinity, whether her experience was affected by being out of the hall.
“I didn’t want to be part of the hall because I wasn’t super into HUMA, so I didn’t want it to be my whole life,” Hemani said. “I liked how HUMA hall residents were still inclusive and we could still write our papers together and help each other out “¦ it was good being in and out of that world.”
The HUMA community sticks together regardless of where students live, then, but what about students in another FYE who happened to live in HUMA halls? Alexis Jarrett, a junior theatre major and physics minor, took A Successful Life as her FYE, while the rest of her hall was made up of HUMA students. I thought that the hall may have excluded her, but her experience in other FYEs brought her closer to her hallmates.
“My roommates and suitemates would ask me about their essay topics because I wasn’t in the class, to make sure that was clear enough so even that someone not in the class would understand,” Jarrett said.
No matter a student’s FYEs or the halls that they live in, first-years can find a sense of community.
My experience finding peers (both academic and social) on Beze 2nd was not marked by just my FYE, but by the innate need for connection all first-years (and humans) crave. Whether you are in a FYE-themed hall this fall or not, remember to get out of your class and campus bubble.