Opinion: New residence-hall community will enhance college experience for Latinx students

The UI’s latest residence-hall community will help members of a campus marginalized community feel less isolated.


Tate Hildyard

The Latino Native American Cultural Center is seen on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2019.

Mariana Garces, Columnist

The University of Iowa announced a new Living Learning Community called Unidos would be offered for students who identity as Latinx starting next fall. As a Colombian native, this news made me extremely excited. Before coming to the UI, I checked the demographic statistics and found out Latinx students only comprise 6.8 percent of students enrolled.

I felt vulnerable knowing that I would be part of the small population of Latinx people on campus. I was anxious about how hard it would be to find people with similar backgrounds as mine.

Thankfully, I signed up for Iowa Edge, a program for incoming first-year students of color and first-generation students. Through this program I became friends with people who understood my culture and my experiences as a Latina.

It would have been difficult for me to come to the UI without Iowa Edge, which is the reality for many underrepresented students. The Unidos LLC is a big step for the UI because it is another necessary resource for Latinx students to have when they arrive on campus.

The Unidos LLC will enhance the education of Latinx students, similar to how the Young, Gifted, and Black LLC has benefited black students throughout the years.

Hewot Getachew is the current resident assistant for the Young, Gifted, and Black LLC. She spoke highly of her experience there as a first-year student.

“It was really great [living in the LLC] because we were all a close-knit group,” Getachew said.

Getachew also emphasized how being a part of the Living Learning Community helped her not feel isolated at the UI.

“Iowa is a predominantly white institution, therefore it was nice to come back to a community who understood what it was like to be the only black person in a classroom,” Getachew said. “It was good to come back home to a place where I feel like I belong and I’m not looked at differently.”

The Unidos LLC will ease the transition into college for future first-year students by helping them find friends to form a strong community with. After all, it is easier to form interpersonal relationships with people who share similar backgrounds as you.

Moreover, it can be lonely to be the minority in a classroom, but the Young, Gifted, and Black residents helped each other through this hardship. The future residents of the Unidos LLC will also have each other to lean on.

“It was good to come back home to a place where I feel like I belong and I’m not looked at differently.”

— Hewot Getachew

In my college experience so far, I have found that it is especially lonesome to not have others who speak your first language. Spanish is what reminds me of my family and home. The LLC will help future students who struggle with this same problem because a residence-hall floor filled with Latinx students may raise the odds of finding someone who speaks your native tongue.

Thankfully, the university has resources in addition to the Unidos LLC for students who do not have access to on-campus housing, such as the Association of Latinos Moving Ahead, the Latino Native American Cultural Center, and Latinx Greek life.

But for future UI students or returning residence-hall students, the LLC will enhance their college experience by giving them access to friendships that will provide a strong support system.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.