Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball falls to North Dakota 82-52 -

November 22, 2017

Home-and-home with Quinnipiac up next for UMass hockey -

November 22, 2017

Carl Pierre’s breakout performance helps UMass men’s basketball over Western Carolina -

November 22, 2017

Pipkins’ double-double leads UMass men’s basketball over Western Carolina -

November 21, 2017

Luwane Pipkins leads the UMass men’s basketball shooting show in 101-76 win over Niagara -

November 19, 2017

UMass to face tough test with Niagara backcourt -

November 19, 2017

Hockey Notebook: John Leonard on an early season tear for UMass hockey -

November 18, 2017

Clock runs out on UMass men’s soccer’s dream season in NCAA opener -

November 17, 2017

2017 Basketball Special Issue -

November 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball prepares for transitional season in 2017-18 -

November 16, 2017

Author Viet Thanh Nguyen discusses how history and humanity is remembered -

November 16, 2017

CMASS completes seven-week discussion series -

November 16, 2017

UMass women’s basketball resets and reloads, looking to improve on last year’s record with plenty of new talent -

November 16, 2017

Matt McCall’s winding path to bring unity to UMass -

November 16, 2017

Carl Pierre is a piece to Matt McCall’s basketball program -

November 16, 2017

Why they stayed: Malik Hines, Chris Baldwin and C.J. Anderson -

November 16, 2017

McConnell chooses politics over morals -

November 16, 2017

Swipe right for love? Probably not. -

November 16, 2017

‘The Florida Project’ is a monument to the other side of paradise -

November 16, 2017

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ doesn’t have to be the best Marvel movie -

November 16, 2017

It’s time to reform RAPs at UMass

(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

With nearly 30,000 students, it’s safe to say that the University of Massachusetts is a pretty big school. Some people seek out large state schools because they offer the experience they’re looking for, yet others like myself might prefer a smaller school but end up attending UMass for other reasons.

UMass offers several programs meant to address the issues first-year students like myself face during the transition to college, and make a big campus feel like a small community. One of these programs is the Peer Mentor program, which I’ve already written about in a previous column. But the primary way UMass hopes to bring a small-school feel to our campus is through Residential Academic Programs, known as RAPs.

The University hopes to inspire students to join a RAP, so they’re promoted at orientation and during campus tours. The idea behind a RAP is that students with similar interests are housed together and take a class together, thus fostering friendships and community. The program also helps provide a smooth transition to college life, inform about campus resources and promote General Education curriculum goals. In some cases, this is a success.

The BioTAP RAP on the floor above me isn’t perfect, but it has managed to group together many students who have an interest in biology, share classes and have overlapping coursework.

Whatever complaints I have heard about BioTAP, I would say that it’s successful in accomplishing what RAPs are meant to achieve. Some people say that it’s “cliquey,” and while that word holds a negative connotation, I think it says something about the potential RAPs have to form a cohesive unit of students.

On the other hand, my experience with the Current Events Honors RAP has been a flop. The program is described as being for those looking for “flexibility” in their RAP, but really this RAP and the useless class associated with it should instead be labeled as “for those who want guaranteed honors housing.”

I could have forgone joining the RAP and avoided the class, but I, like every other student I have talked to in my RAP, was not willing to risk not getting my preferred housing in honors. This creates a problem. Because so much of the motivation to join Current Events is to secure housing, few join the RAP excited to participate in the one-credit seminar that comes tacked onto it. The already questionable purpose of this “Front Page Seminar” class is further perverted by the lack of interest of my classmates.

An even bigger issue with my RAP is the housing situation. Unlike, say, BioTAP, which has a whole floor, my floor has a couple Current Events dorms mixed in among a floor that is otherwise mostly engineering or nursing majors. The rest of the Current Events RAP students are spread throughout the upper levels of my building in similar fashion. Out of my whole class, there is only one other person who lives on the same floor as me.

Being spread throughout a building does not facilitate any interaction between students, let alone the formation of a community. I fail to see how this RAP is supposed to generate a feeling of community when I only see my classmates once a week for 50 minutes in a class that I struggle to find meaning for. The Front Page Seminars also vary so widely based on professors that I don’t even share any common ground with the few other students on my floor who are in my RAP but not in the same class as me.

The structure of the Current Events RAP has helped me see what makes an ineffective residential program. When you start with a class that doesn’t engage students, then segregate the students from each other by way of separate floor, you minimize the chances of anyone from the program actually socializing with each other.

Looking at the BioTAP RAP, which has a narrow area of focus, I’ve realized that the more specific a RAP is to a subject area, the more successful it will be at bringing students together. UMass should keep this in mind when designing future RAPs, or we should introduce a different way to secure housing that doesn’t involve being forced into a pointless class.

Amelia Moran is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at aemoran@umass.edu.

 

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