Ackerman Hall is the newest amongst WOU’s first-year housing options. It is comprised of three coed wings per floor, spanning up through three full residence floors. Zac Cole, the RA for Third Taylor this academic year, characterized Ackerman’s community experience by its mixed class nature. Ackerman is the only residence hall that fills each hall with coed students, and mixes first-years with upper-division students. As Cole stated, “You’re not isolated to the freshmen, or only isolated to one gender.” Ackerman is also unique in that each wing is themed, allowing students to pick their halls based upon their interests or academic experiences. Students have the opportunity to build relationships based on their majors, interests, and extracurricular communities.
Cole described the connections between some of his residents as a kind of mentorship; seniors tend to guide freshmen and other underclassmen through their academic journeys, offering advice and insight into the fields of study. “It’s […] a really great way, for especially a freshman, to grow, because it’s a mixed class environment,” Cole said. Referencing his own experience as a freshman in the Ed Hall the previous year, he continued, “It was just really great to learn from the seniors, who were going into the Ed Program, and about what classes to take, what professors to take, and not to take–and I found that [it was] the same way for my residents this year. Seniors are really there to help my freshmen and guide them.”
Ackerman is characterized by diversity and options, as well. The residence hall is laid out as such: floor one’s only residential wing holds the theme of Transfer Students; floor two includes Global Connections, Outdoor Adventure, and Health Sciences; floor three’s themes are Business, ASL, and Criminal Justice; and floor four includes Future Educators, Honors, and Creative Arts. Additionally, each Ackerman hall has two single-stall gender neutral bathrooms, accompanied by communal men’s and women’s bathrooms. Ackerman’s room types vary, too, as students can pick a single occupancy room if they prefer their own private space, or a double occupancy room if they want to experience more immersion in the community-based environment.
Of all the conveniences of living on campus, Cole highlighted those most pertaining to Ackerman—its proximity to classes, as the building is very close to the main campus road, the short distance to Hamersly Library, and Ackerman’s own study rooms. If students need to study during the evening and would prefer to not make the short trek to the library in the dark, they can choose to work in one of the residence hall’s study rooms, where students can focus while residing in their own space.
As with all residence halls, Ackerman places a great focus on community. There is a shared kitchen on each floor of the building, and there is an open community center within each hall to encourage socialization and group activities. In Cole’s own hall, Third Taylor, the students have created a quote wall, and they have created their own inside jokes throughout the academic year. Cole worked to craft a welcoming and social environment in his hall, and in turn, his students have taken the initiative to plan their own hall events, strengthening their friendships and communal bonds.
Cole and his fellow Ackerman RA’s have emphasized their diversity-centered goals through their programs, as “[diversity is] one of University Housing’s main core values.” Over this past academic year, their programs have focused on sex education and safety, awareness surrounding alcohol consumption and potential risks, allyship amongst students and campus staff, and the overarching theme of inclusion. One program Cole was particularly proud of was “A Walk Down Privilege Lane,” its theme and goal described by Cole himself; “We displayed everyone’s identities and […] talked about those, whether they’re privileged or marginalized identities, and how privileged identities can help marginalized identities.” Allyship, compassion, and collaborative education take center stage in these activities and events, creating a warm and welcoming space for all students who reside within Ackerman.