University Housing Blog

Live next door to someone famous...at least for a week 

A blog post written by Delaney Laurence, Housing Marketing student staff

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live next door to a famous person? Or to sit down and have tea with a Pulitzer Prize winner? At Allen Hall, residents get to have the chance to experience this each month through their intriguing Guest-in-Residence program. 
 
The Unit One Living Learning Community (LLC) in Allen Hall is the oldest and largest LLC on campus. Laura Haber, Allen Hall Program Director, explains the history of Guest-in-Residence program. 

The Guest-in-Residence Program started in 1970 to bring in notable, successful, passionate and unique guests to live in an apartment in the residence hall for a semester or year. While living there, the guest shared their knowledge and passions through lectures, workshops, presentations and discussions – all open to the public. The schedule included Tea Time, when students had an opportunity to go the apartment to meet and hang out with the guest informally.  

In the past, the Guest-in-Residence Program has hosted notable individuals such as Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly; Davy Rothbart, filmmaker, author, and creator of Found Magazine; activist and educational reformer Bill Ayers; physician Patch Adams; and TV producer Fred Rubin.
 
Over the last 40 years, there have been a few changes made to the program. Guests now stay for about a week in Allen Hall and they interact with residents in a variety of non-academic programs, workshops and informal discussions. Student residents are also very involved in choosing which guests are invited to campus. Haber first compiles a list of potential guests, often made up of recommendations from previous guests or notable speakers. Then she works with building staff and student residents to see which guests generate the most interest. She compiles a final list of about eight speakers for the year.
 
According to Haber, inviting guests to live at Allen Hall for a week provides a unique opportunity for students to learn from and interact with individuals they normally would not have the chance to do so with otherwise. In fact, students have made professional connections, including internships and jobs, just by meeting and speaking with guests. 

One resident was deeply inspired by artist and activist Ricardo Levins Morales who visited in the past and is visiting again in February. The student expressed to Haber how Morales totally changed his life and career path because of his mentorship and support. 
 
Notable guests that will be visiting Allen Hall this year include award-winning American poet Jimmy Santiago Baca (September) and San-Francisco hacker, inventor and CEO Mitch Altman (February). 
 
Haber puts into words just how influential this program has been to students. 
 
“Students at this age are trying to figure out how to make meaning, what to do with their life – a straight and clear path. They can learn from the guests that it is not so clear, and people can take a lot of different turns in the course of their life – learn how to make a living doing what they love. The guests can function as short-term mentors for the students.” 
 
See the complete 2017-2018 Guest-in-Residence schedule