The first year of life here at Trinity can be full of awkward silences, especially after incoming students run out of questions like â€œWhatâ€™s your major?â€ and â€œWhere are you from? Houston?â€
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 â€œsleazyâ€ and â€œgrossâ€ just because itâ€™s one of the last dorms to be renovated, I fell in love with my hall that year â€” because of its abundance of natural light, its proximity to Mabee and, of course, my fellow HUMA classmates. Thatâ€™s just my own experience, though, and while I couldnâ€™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 hallâ€™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 didnâ€™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.
â€œI didnâ€™t want to be part of the hall because I wasnâ€™t super into HUMA, so I didnâ€™t want it to be my whole life,â€ Hemani said. â€œI liked how HUMA hall residents were still inclusive and we could still write our papers together and help each other out â€¦ it was good being in and out of that world.â€
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.
â€œMy roommates and suitemates would ask me about their essay topics because I wasnâ€™t in the class, to make sure that was clear enough so even that someone not in the class would understand,â€ Jarrett said.
No matter a studentâ€™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.