Adulting in The Oaks
Oaks residents are living independently, studying abroad, conducting undergraduate research, taking on leadership positions, working at internships, and engaging in deep inquiry in their majors. This year’s theme is part of an evolving series. In the last years the Oaks has journeyed from encouraging students to Deepen the Elon Experience, to supporting residents as they take on The Next Big Thing. When we sit with students and have conversations with them, during Neighborhood Dinners, or, just as often, after Neighborhood Dinners after the food has all been cleared and a handful of faculty members and students are still sitting around talking about their experiences, we’ve heard residents say that they need support being adults.. We’ve listened to students at night over pancakes while sitting on a couch with a group of students listening to a junior talking about her research on women in New Guinea. Residents have told us this in Neighborhood Association meetings and in intentional focus groups. Residents of The Oaks and Park Place are supported by Elon as scholars and professionals, and they are interested in learning to integrate their academic life with their residential and social life. They want support learning to manage their residential lives — cooking, managing a living space, navigating relationships as adults while taking advantage of all of Elon has to offer. In other words, they want more of their academic life in their social and residential life and they want help making their residential life as productive as possible to support their academic life.
Oaks Residents frequently ask for support in the area of apartment living. These requests focus primarily around cooking, cleaning, managing apartment living, and opportunities to have low stakes authentic conversations with faculty. Our Adulting Series is designed to help Oaks residents’ transition from dorm and suite living to independent apartment living. Our goal is to integrate the academic, social, and residential in all of our programming. A social media campaign will support the theme of adulting and build energy and interest around each event. The Adulting Series has been designed by residents according to their interests/needs and includes four types of programming alternating on Third and Fourth Tuesdays.
The Oaks Neighborhood Plan for 17-18
The Neighborhood Plan is an educational roadmap for integrating Oaks residents’ academic, social, and residential experiences. Download the plan for 17-18.
Neighborhood Student Population
- 660 students
- 38% sophomore
- 34% juniors
- 25% seniors
Facilities and Amenities
- The Oaks: 6 apartment buildings. Apartment styles include: 4-person units with single rooms; 4-person units with double rooms; 2-person units with single rooms.
- Park Place: residential apartment building over mixed-use space. Apartment style: 3-person units with single rooms.
- Neighborhood common areas: McCoy Commons with a Club Room (full kitchen included), multi-purpose room, and offices for Phoenix Card and Campus Safety and Police. Outdoor sand volleyball court and courtyard with tables and outdoor grill.
Residents have an opportunity to learn from one another and present their own undergraduate research projects in an informal setting at Late Night Noms on the second Tuesdays of the month.
Professor Julie Justice, the Faculty Director of The Oaks, lives in the neighborhood and supports the intellectual life of the neighborhood. Dr. Justice is an Assistant Professor of Education.
Signature Programs, Social Traditions, and Academic Experiences
- Le Querce (“The Oaks” in Italian) –Le Querce has traditionally been a hugely successful neighborhood kick-off event with well over one hundred residents attending. This event has been bistro-themed with hors d’oeuvres, light Italian desserts, and live music. Le Querce is a critical event in the year in which we welcome students back to Elon, giving them a chance to experience how the Oaks will enhance their Elon experience.
- Fall Fest – The Oaks holds an annual fall festival
- Oaks BBQ (OBBQ) – The week before Spring finals begin, the Oaks Neighborhood hosts an end-of-the-year cookout to celebrate students’ academic accomplishments by providing a social “bookend” to the neighborhood’s social community. This event—with food, music, and yard games—provides a time for adequate farewells between student, staff, and residents.
- Neighborhood Yard Sale – The week before graduation, the Oaks neighborhood hosts a neighborhood yard sale to help residents get rid of things they don’t need and pick up anything they might need. Students can either be present to sell their items or they can drop their items off and any proceeds are donated to Allied Churches. Any remaining items are donated.
First Tuesdays – Neighborhood Dinners
Neighborhood dinners are intellectually themed social events. At Oaks Neighborhood dinners, residents invite faculty to come together with students to discuss current issues in the world. Neighborhood dinners are large dinner parties with up to 50 guests. Residents on the planning committee will invite up to 4 faculty members to join each monthly dinner. Faculty members will be chosen based on their expertise in particular areas of interest as well as the residents’ interest in having dinner with them. These dinner conversations allow residents to explore the issues in the world and connect them to what they’re learning in their courses. They are informal, social, and the discussions are resident-led.
Second Tuesdays – Late Night Nomz with Featured Undergraduate Scholars and University Partners
The Oaks Neighborhood staff has established Late Night Nomz as a recurring monthly social tradition. Late Night Nomz (formerly known as Grilled/Griddle Nights) run from 9pm-11pm and will be coordinated by Apartment Managers. Each Late Night Nomz features a snack that is freshly made by the staff as students enter the Oaks Club Room and socialize with student staff and peers throughout the room; some past featured snacks have been nachos, quesadillas, and pancakes. Previous events have had as many as 150 residents in attendance.
At each Late Night Nomz, a Featured Scholar will informally present their research. The Featured Scholar program is designed to highlight the undergraduate research projects of Oaks residents. At the beginning of the fall and spring a call for proposals is sent out to residents. Applicants are selected by blind review by the Faculty Director and Apartment Manager responsible for academic initiatives. The selected residents will informally present their research at a scheduled Late Night Noms events. Presentations are casual and conversational in tone, allowing residents to ask questions and learn about both the research topic and undergraduate research generally in a low-stakes, social environment.
At each Late Night Nomz, a University Partner will also be featured. The University Partners will set up a table at the entrance to the event to provide information about their organization and services provided. The Oaks Neighborhood Association will partner in shaping events/initiatives and providing marketing for them — this will be a collaboration with the perceived needs of the ONA and the Oaks residents with the university partner’s goals.
Third Tuesdays – Cooking Class With Your Professor
Cooking Class with Your Professor, conceived by residents, are small-scale events in which a professor (with a partner from the Oaks staff) teaches residents how to cook a particular dish. The faculty chef will be nominated by residents and will be invited to prepare a favorite dish in the Oaks Club Room kitchen. As the faculty member teaches residents how to cook the dish, she is encouraged to share any other information about the cooking or the food within that faculty’s expertise (i.e. cultural significance of particular foods, food science, meal planning and budgeting, historical methods of preparation, sustainability and sourcing of the food, etc).
Fourth Tuesdays – Maker Nights
Maker Nights — Maker Nights are opportunities for residents to learn a skill that they may find useful in their residential life. In partnership with the Neighborhood Association, faculty and staff as well as student staff will share their expertise and provide guided opportunities for residents to learn to make what they need for their residential life. Ideas for 2017-2018 include maker meet-ups for: knitting, sewing, making indoor herb gardens, making eco-friendly cleaning products, using the 3-D printer to print useful devices for your apartment.
Design Thinking and Apartment Hacks with the Mobile Maker – One particular Maker Night is this program is designed with two goals in mind: 1) to provide networking opportunities for residents to share how they develop strategies for independent apartment living and personalize their spaces and routines, and 2) to incentivize residents to make use of the Mobile Maker resources in the Oaks Neighborhood. Both fall and spring events will include a Design Thinking session focused around using design thinking and the Mobile Maker to solve apartment design problems.
Building Level Programming: Meet Your Neighbors
The goal of building level programming is to support the development of community in the residential community as a whole, specifically focused on developing community within each apartment building. This programming is designed to help residents develop neighborly relationships with the other people in this building. In focus groups during Spring 2016 and 2017, residents indicated that they did not know their neighbors. Each apartment-manager will host a Neighbor Night towards the beginning of each semester. Activities for the 2017-2018 year will introduce residents to one another so that they can recognize each other in the hall, come to each other for neighborly support, and feel safe and connected to their immediate neighbors.