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New Year, New Laurel

By: Kris Kudialis

The staff and students of Laurel Hall are excited for a new year in Laurel Residence Hall.

Hansen Karyakose, assistant hall director, is enthusiastic about the reopening of this upper-division student hall, feeling a “strong connection” with both the 13 resident assistants, and the newly renovated building. Karyakose views this year as an opportunity to “create a new Laurel,” encouraging the RAs in his building to “take ownership of their floor” by building community among the residents.

Paws and Relax 2019

Karyakose says the year is off to a promising start with an enthusiastic, newly elected hall council. Being new to campus, Karyakose was “nervous about student participation” but was happy to see UT students stepping up to join the residence hall council in Laurel.

Hall councils are groups of students who plan hall events and activities on behalf of the residents. Anja Peterson, President of Laurel Residence Association, sees this group as “pivotal in meeting the community” and an exciting and unique way to get involved on campus. She encourages all students to get involved.

Llamapalooza 2019

Peterson was also president last year during the hall’s brief closure. She and two other council members, Vice President Will Kent and Publicity Chairman Tate Hill, worked to keep the Laurel community alive during the closure.

The three visited Laurel residents at their temporary apartment complexes and held community programs despite the lack of a residence hall. These programs included “Paws & Relax,” an event that gives students the opportunity to spend time with peers and pets; “Spring Break Regret,” an informative program about tattoos, drinking, and safety over spring break; and “LLamapaloza,” a campus-wide event that brought students together to take selfies with llamas!

Llamapalooza 2019

Peterson says that she enjoyed her accommodations during the closure and received assistance from the department even while off campus. Even so, she missed the close-knit nature of her residence hall, and she was excited to move back on campus this year.

The Laurel hall council dedicated themselves to creating “a home away from home” as Peterson describes it, and went above and beyond last year to bring the Laurel community together despite their distance. Peterson is thrilled to be back in Laurel with an enthusiastic new hall council. They are looking forward to helping all Vols feel welcome in their new community this year.