New learning community looks to fill intramural void

by Barbara Platts / Beacon Staff • March 29, 2012

When Lauren Cortizo arrived at Emerson the second semester of her freshman year, she found herself without an athletic outlet. After juggling four different sports in high school — her favorite being wrestling, in which she was the only female member — Cortizo had trouble connecting with like-minded people.

“I went running every day and I never knew where I could find other people that were interested in the same thing as me,” said the marketing communication major. 

Now, the junior and co-captain of the women’s cross country team is helping to create the outlet she wanted two years ago as the resident assistant for the new active living community on the seventh floor of Piano Row.

Like the living green community, which stresses eco-friendliness, and the writer’s block that conducts workshops and critiques, the active living community will provide students with a fitness-minded environment. Cortizo became an RA her sophomore year, and since then she’s wanted to help create a floor like this one.

“I want this floor to exist so freshmen, or even second years, can have that experience that I never had,” she said.

The active living floor will be one of nine learning communities at the school, according to David Haden, the director of Housing and Residence Life. Haden said the purpose of a learning community is to provide students with similar interests a place to come together and learn more about the topics through different activities and experiences.

“Active living is a community dedicated to engaging in sports, physical activities, and a movement-filled lifestyle,” Haden said in an email interview.

Cortizo said she was one of the many student athletes who had talked about having an active living floor at Emerson, but the idea was not set into motion until last fall, when residence hall directors Jon Kroll and Takara Larsen formed a committee to submit a proposal for the floor. She added that she was joined by two other RAs to help conduct research.

“We worked together as a team to come up with a proposal for why Emerson College needed this floor,” Cortizo said.

According to their research, which surveyed 150 students at Emerson, 55 percent were fully in favor of adding an active living floor on campus and 28 percent thought that it would likely be a valuable addition. Out of the rest of the students that participated in the survey, 19 percent were uncertain and five percent did not think adding this learning community would be beneficial at all. 

Sophomore and RA John King was also on the committee that helped form the active living floor. As a non-student athlete, the journalism major said that he, too, had a hard time finding other active students to play intramurals with his freshman year.

“There was no outlet for me,” King said. “I’ve always thought that Emerson doesn’t have enough intramurals to keep people active.”

When junior Mary Tortorici transferred here, she was disappointed to find the lack of an active community at Emerson. The communication disorders major loves sports and wished that she could have met people through intramurals or other similar activities.

“I would love to join an intramural volleyball team,” Tortorici said. “I could meet a lot of people that way.” 

Tortorici said she thought adding an active living community would be a good way for students interested in sports to get to know like-minded people.

Once the proposal was finished, the committee submitted it to the Office of Housing and Residence Life and it got approved at the beginning of 2012, according to Haden. After it was accepted, RAs could apply to be in charge of the floor and a handful jumped at the opportunity, according to Cortizo.

“When I got it I was thrilled because I wasn’t expecting to get it,” she said.

Cortizo said that the floor is meant for all types of students, whether or not they are involved in Emerson athletics. 

“It will bring people from different teams together and people that aren’t athletes,” she said. 

King said that most of the research they conducted for the proposal of this floor was done on non-athletes.

“There is a lot of demand for this,” King said. “Specifically for people who aren’t on athletic teams. We wanted to cater to students interested in sports that aren’t student athletes.” 

Cortizo has already brainstormed numerous ideas for activities with her learning community, such as intramural sports in the gym, dodgeball in the park, and night runs. But she wants the schedule to be flexible and open to what her residents want.

“I think it is a great way to bring people together because you are pushing through something and you have that goal,” she said. “I think it’ll be a very motivating environment to keep people healthy throughout the entire year.”