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Mainstream Living

Haley Blanchette on Saturday, 27 August 2011. Posted in Residence Life, Student Life

Living in the residence halls is one of the best experiences you will have at RIT!  It is a great way to make friends and you will have so many social opportunities.  On-campus life gives you a new freedom and independence.

I lived on a mainstream floor in Ellingson Hall my first year at RIT and it was a much different experience than living on a regular floor.   When you get your housing assignment, if you see the term “Mainstream Floor”  it means that you will be living on a floor with deaf and hard of hearing students.  Your actual roommate will be hearing but your neighbors may be hard of hearing or even completely deaf.  

My roommate and I got along great and we even got an apartment together for our second year.  We also made some other friends on the floor who we still keep in touch with; however, it was sometimes frustrating to live with deaf and hard of hearing students because of the communication barrier.  I learned some sign language through my RAs and through other friends.  The alphabet and a few other common phrases were incredibly useful.  RIT also offers American Sign Language courses for students who want to really bridge the communication gap.  Many students choose to take American Sign Language as their Liberal Arts Concentration or Minor.  Over twelve hundred students take classes at RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf so it is very helpful to know at least some american sign language. 

When I first found out I would be living with deaf and hard of hearing students, I looked forward to the unique experience.  A lot of people even told me it would be really quiet so I could study.  I found out very quickly that this was not true.   Deaf people do not realize how loud they are so sometimes it was even louder than the other residence halls.

I did not have close relationships with a lot of people on my floor like I noticed the floormates in Gleason or Nathaniel Rochester Hall did.  A lot of the floors with all hearing students made friends quickly and had a strong bond.  Even though I was able to communicate with some of the hard of hearing and deaf students on my floor, that only went so far.  I did make friends with some of the other hearing students who lived on other floors in my building and I am still good friends with them.

I am thankful that I lived in Ellingson because it was such a unique experience.  I was submerged into another culture and I learned so much about people with hearing disadvantages.   I met my awesome roommate and because I didn’t have a ton of friends on my floor, I became really good friends with other students in my major.