New Living Learning Community Comes to Marriott Honors Community this August

By Ivana Martinez, Assistant News Editor


The Marriott Honors Community at the University of Utah welcomes a new living learning community. Dean Sylvia Torti of the Honors College is working with the Center for Latin American Studies to bring a new addition to the MHC: a Spanish LLC. 

The idea for a Spanish LLC grew out of a conversation Torti had with another colleague about language intensive floors at other universities.

“I had gone to a college that had a Spanish house, a French house and a German house. And I thought, why didn’t I come up with that idea? Because it was so obvious,” Torti said. 

There are currently 17 LLCs and themed communities on campus. The housing setups provide particular experiences for students ranging from service houses to fine arts floors. Students are grouped together based on similar interests, passions and goals, although LLCs are uniquely specific to the honors college.

From one floor to the next, students live in distinct communities. For most first-years, the LLCs are meant to provide an easy transition from high school to university. Upper-division students have catered topics such as thesis mentoring floors that provide support and help from other students researching similar topics. 

Hailey Wells, a first-year majoring in biology lives on the researchers in the sciences floor, spoke about her experience living in an LLC. “I think that helped us. We could do work do together if we were confused about anything,” Wells said. “We had resources really close by so that was helpful.” 

Beginning Fall 2020, upperclassmen housing will solely reside in the MHC and in the two historic houses in Officers Circle. The new Kahlert Village that is currently under construction is expected to house 327 spots for first-year honors students. 

The new Spanish LLC is intended for upper-division students who are native, heritage or semi-fluent speakers. “It’s more than just language of course. It’s around culture — Latin American culture,” Torti said. 

 According to a report by the Utah Department of Health, linguist demographics have been evolving rapidly. Spanish is the second most-spoken language in Utah counties.  

Torti will be working with political science professor Claudio Holzner from the Center of Latin American Studies and with a graduate student. Together they will let students define and decide the co-curricular activities they want to engage with. 

Junior Preston Hadley, an honors QAMO business major who’s looking into the Spanish LLC, mentioned he’d like to attend events that include Spanish dancing. 

“I think it’d be really cool to go to different places that the Spanish community in Utah [goes to]. Certain markets or different events,” he said.

Hadley learned Spanish in high school, and spoke about the benefits of knowing another language. He said that it helps him connect with different cultures other than his own. 

Students interested in the LLC must go through a Spanish interview with Torti to verify that they are able to speak fluently. Scholarships will be available to students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to live on campus. 

The idea behind the LLC is to promote an immersive experience through culture and language. While students are at home, they will speak in Spanish. Interviews are still ongoing. There are currently four spots left on the floor.

A Spanish LLC can mean an inclusive space for under-represented Hispanic students in honors. First-year Honors student, Betzy Carrasco, a chemical engineering major who interviewed for the Spanish LLC said, “There’s not that many of us here.”

“Having a community where you know people that are also Latino [who] speak Spanish and like that environment — it feels more at home, inclusive, like a safe space,” Carrasco said. 

The Spanish LLC holds not only a personal component with Torti but a larger one as well. As a bicultural woman who is half Argentine and half American, creating a Spanish floor made sense to Torti. 

“I have personally tried to promote Latino sensibilities within the Honors College, partly because that’s where I come from. [Where] my family comes from,” Torti said.  

With many different cultures living in Utah, Torti hopes that the Spanish LLC is the first step to potentially expanding other language floors. Over the next couple of weeks, applications will be processed and students will receive their acceptance letters. The priority deadline for living in an LLC or themed community is March 10. Students in the Spanish LLC can anticipate a meeting later this spring.  

“I hope this is a space where a group of students from diverse backgrounds in terms of language and diverse interests can come together, live and improve their Spanish,” Torti said.


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An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Sylvia Torti.