22 September, 2009

The Importance of Community: Why the NCV is special

New College Village is more than just a place to live; it is a place where people make friends for life, where you will find academic support, and where the Senior Resident team led by Carmen and me will support you when struggling in any way. There are a number of ways that this type of community is shaped:

1. We have an excellent team of Senior Residents (see my previous post here) who do after hours duty, get to know everyone on their floors, plan social activities, and look out for everyone.

2. We have an excellent team of 6 Academic Tutors who offer advice and support in relation to life on campus, how to negotiate and understand the various academic programs and courses at UNSW, where to go for academic help, rules and regulations about study at UNSW, and general advice about writing, research and meeting University assessment requirements.

3. The ethos of NCV is reflective of the history of care and concern for residents modelled at New College over 40 years. This is led by the Master and the Dean.

4. We have an air conditioned building designed to support community with many common areas, courtyards, a games room, a business centre, reading room, main common room with piano for the musical and so on.

5. We have a rich social program including many planned activities like BBQs for the whole community (here), academic seminars with outstanding scholars and professional leaders (here), supper every Monday night from 9.00 till 11.00pm hosted by the Senior Residents on each floor (here), formal dinners where we dress up, share good food and hear from an outstanding speaker whose life is inspiring (here). As well, residents organise themselves numerous activities such as the NCV Choir, the Gold Week Concert (here), movie nights, video gaming in the common room, sports activities, trips away, potluck dinners, outings to the city of beach and so on.

Our aim in building the New College Village has been to create a unique community for postgraduate students enrolled at UNSW. Many universities around the world attempt to provide designated postgraduate accommodation (although very few in Australia). However, not many universities have seriously given priority to support and community building. Drawing on experience living in graduate housing in the USA and my knowledge of the best of the postgraduate colleges in the United Kingdom, I developed a design brief that sought to:
  • create spaces for residents to meet with each other in varied contexts - 2 common rooms on each floor with lounges, coffee making facilities and in 7 of these cable television; a large games room; two outdoor courtyards; a rooftop terrace; a reading room; a business centre; a main common room; a convenience store and barbecue facilities outdoors.
  • ensure that as residents move through the building there are frequent mingling spaces;
  • our wonderful location close to key campus-based cafes, restaurants and the graduate lounge (just 100 metres away);
  • offer residents the privacy of their own rooms and ensuites, but at the same time provide common space for mingling. All apartments and clusters of studio apartments have generous shared space for sharing meals or just spending time with other residents;
  • provide well a equipped business centre that is for the use of all residents to support you in your studies;
  • offer internet services that you'd expect in a modern building with data access to all rooms;
  • incorporate state-of-the-art external design features that ensure that this building has outstanding acoustic features, leading to quiet rooms.
The NCV also has many other things going for it that will make life comfortable and interesting, including air-conditioned ensuite rooms; a special membership option for the outstanding University gymnasium and indoor pool (just 200 metres from the front door); a bus stop at the front door that provides access to all the sights of Sydney; some of the world's finest beaches a 20 minute walk away or a short 5 minute direct bus ride.

Added to the obvious strengths of the building, and the many programs that support community life, are the 319 different people who live in the NCV and are all at UNSW to learn from each other. The NCV gives you an opportunity to live among postgraduate students from every Australian state and territory and ever continent of the world. We have residents from 55 nations who bring rich cultural diversity that makes the community and exciting place.

If you'd like more information the NCV website will give you extra information and will allow you to make an online application.