6 Concepts Covered in ENGL 250 at VCU

For some students, English classes aren’t their strong suit, which makes completing general education requirements difficult. However, there are courses available at VCU that fulfill your English requirement without putting you through a semester of non-stop essay writing. One of these courses is Reading Film (ENGL 250); outlined below are a few of the concepts covered in Reading Film to help you determine whether or not you might be interested in enrolling in it.

Representation vs. Reality

The first chapter of the course covers a very brief history of film. It highlights the Lumiere Brothers, who were among the first filmmakers in global history. Auguste and Louis Lumiere created film with the intention that it would be used for science and research- they had no idea it would be so widely adapted for entertainment value. The focus of this chapter is the philosophical question that film analysts must ask themselves: where is the line between the imagined rendition and reality? Included in this conversation is the concept of “suspension of disbelief”, which works to explain part of that boundary between fantasy and reality.

Camera Movements/Angles

This chapter is much more concrete and vocabulary-based than the one that comes before it. It includes multiple terms that relate to mobile framing- the camera movement that shifts the viewer’s perspective from within the shot. Students are surprised to learn that many of the vocabulary terms that you are required to learn for this chapter are common knowledge, such as pan or tilt. Some of the terms are more specific, but are still rather self-explanatory and don’t require much studying to understand. In addition, this chapter includes information about camera angles and their subliminal meanings. For example, you learn the symbolic differences between a high-angle shot (implying weakness or defeat) versus a low-angle shot (implying power and dominance).


In this course, you learn about two main styles of film editing: classical Hollywood style and Soviet-style montage. The classical Hollywood style of editing has been used to provide a continuous narrative throughout a film by using customs like editing matches, the 180-degree rule, and the shot/reverse-shot rule. These conventions are important to understanding the purpose behind a film, but are so standard in mainstream cinema that students typically require little time to master these concepts. Much more time in this chapter is dedicated to Soviet-style montage and the avant-garde editing techniques involved in this style.


Another chapter in this course is dedicated completely to sound in film. This includes a brief history of sound in film, including early film history that involves silent pictures or the pairing of silent films with large, live orchestras. The chapter covers the first “talkies” (movies with synchronous dialogue) like The Jazz Singer (1929). The most important vocabulary terms for this chapter concern the analytical categories of sound; however, there are only 3 categories, so it is not too hard to memorize.


This chapter of the course is probably the closest you will get to a traditional English course. It reviews the basic structural elements of a story (exposition, catalyst, rising actions, climax, falling action, and closure); while these terms are intended to apply specifically to film narrative structure, they show little variation from the same story elements you learned early on in grade school. Students will also discuss narratology, which is the discipline that studies the mechanisms of narrative and how they impact our perceptions of the story. Finally, you learn about archetypical plot-lines that are typically used in film. Some examples of these plot-lines are the hero’s journey or boy-meets-girl.

Influential Filmmakers

While there isn’t a chapter in this course dedicated specifically to influential filmmakers throughout history, it is important to know that you will have to learn and memorize information about cinematographic pioneers. There are only a handful of names to know, but their contributions to film history are so revolutionary that they cannot be missed. Some of the bigger names that you will have to know are the Lumiere brothers (who invented the first portable camera- the cinematographe), Sergei Eisenstein (a Soviet-era filmmaker praised for his use of intellectual montage), and D.W. Griffith (an influential American director and filmmaker during the formation of the classical Hollywood style).

Overall, Reading Film (ENGL 250) is a great class to take at VCU. The content that you learn about throughout the course helps increase your cinematic literacy and makes watching films more interesting. If you have an English credit that needs to be fulfilled, you might want to consider enrolling in ENGL 250!

5 Reasons to Become a Mass Communications Major at VCU

Mass communications is an increasingly valuable degree in a world that is becoming more and more global. Luckily for students attending VCU, the Robertson School of Media and Culture under the College of Humanities and Sciences offers a variety of programs under the major of mass communications. Students can pursue journalism, public relations, or broadcasting. Listed below are five reasons to become a mass communications major at VCU.

1. Broad career field

One of the best reasons to become a mass communications major at VCU is that the major is applicable to a wide variety of jobs in the professional field. Students who work towards other majors like education or biology tend to find themselves in a very specific career path. However, with a mass communications degree, you can work in advertising, journalism, broadcasting, and much more. With the expansion of technology only comes the expansion of careers in this field, as technology is increasingly becoming involved in the way that people communicate, especially on a wide-spread, mass-media scale.

2. Computers can’t take over the job!

As technology advances, many corporations and businesses are exchanging human labor for cheaper, faster machine labor. While computers can take over factory jobs or jobs that use programmable algorithms, there will likely never be a computer that can identify, communicate, and advocate for human interest, which are among the main goals of mass communications. It is one of the few degrees that will always be “in style”; companies will always need someone to represent their brand/mission, to write/create content for their company, and to communicate with peers in the field. As a mass communications major, you will never have to worry about having an “obsolete” degree in ten years or less.

3. Find a job in a social environment

If you are a particularly social person or enjoy working in groups of people, then you should definitely consider pursuing a mass communication degree. Whether you are working directly with people in large project teams or are working to better understand people in order to more effectively market a product, there is essentially no job in mass communications where people-skills will not be useful. In your pursuit of a degree, you will be exposed to a myriad of different people in order to interview them, learn from them, and network with them.

4. Be globally informed

Mass communications is inherently a global study; different groups of people across the globe are increasing their interactions with one another and there is a demand for people to study these communications. Degrees in mass communications often attract a great number of international students, of which VCU has a robust population. Interactions with international peers is a great way to diversify your learning and overall thinking.

5. Well-developed student media groups

In order to find out what elements of mass communications best suit your interests, you might want to join one or several student media groups. Luckily, VCU has a thriving community of students exploring media through various clubs and organizations like the WVCW Radio, Ink Magazine, the Commonwealth Times, and Amendment. Depending on your interests you might want to join the student radio station, the newspaper, or any of the various other literary and art publications under the student media center. These organizations are a great way to get your foot in the door and make professional connections that you can use on resumes or in future jobs.

a neon green cover of ink magazine

Students who pursue mass communications majors at VCU are primed by an education from one of the largest schools under the College of Humanities and Science and one of only about 100 accredited schools with mass communications programs. If you get a degree in mass communications, you can choose to immediately enter the workforce after graduation, but you also are provided great resources to successfully apply and attend graduate school. If you are interested in the interactions between people on a large scale, you might want to consider pursuing a mass communications degree at VCU!

6 Cultural Clubs at VCU

One of the things that is most appealing to students who attend VCU is the diverse student population. VCU is also known for hosting a large number of international students from over 100 countries and harboring an environment of equality and representation. In order to maintain this atmosphere, VCU offers a variety of cultural clubs for students to join to learn about or express different aspects of their (or others’) culture. Listed below are just six of the more than thirty cultural organizations to be a part of at VCU.

1. African Student Union

The African Student Union at VCU (ASU) is a group of students that work to promote the awareness of African culture on the VCU campus. This goal is accomplished through various workshops, socials, meetings, debates, and other events. The ASU at VCU even hosts an annual fashion show that highlights African culture through student models and designers. The ASU is a very inclusive club, meaning that you don’t necessarily have to be of African heritage to join and participate. Members are also offered exclusive discounts around campus at select restaurants and retailers. While the organization does have an official website, it is rather out-of-date, and you are more likely to find more recent, accurate information about the club’s regular meetings and special events.

2. Latino Student Association

The Latino Student Association (LSA) was founded at VCU to encourage exploration and support of Hispanic culture. Like the ASU, the Latino Student Association is a non-exclusive club, meaning that people of all cultures and beliefs (that have an interest in Hispanic culture) are welcome. As of the spring 2018 semester, the organization is very robust club that boasts well over 400 members. The LSA regularly works closely with other organizations that focus on more specific elements of Latin culture (i.e. political activism, specified Latin countries, etc.) such as FACT (Filipino Americans Coming Together) or PLUMAS (Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society).

3. Ryse Lion Dance at VCU

A significant number of students are familiar with the lion dancing club at VCU due to their high-profile performances (typically at the start of the fall semester during Welcome Week events) and their regular practice by Hibbs Hall. However, many of the students that know about the lion dancing group do not know it by its name: Ryse Lion Dance. The group not only performs around VCU and at school-sponsored events, but they also attend regional and national competitions and have even performed at local weddings and other private events. Students who are interested in becoming a part of this organization are not required to have any experience.

4. German Club at VCU

The German Club at VCU is a group of students that work to promote knowledge of German heritage and traditions. Many of the students in the group take (or have taken) the German language courses offered at VCU. However, knowledge of/experience with the German language are not required to become a member. Students involved in the German Club at VCU often take part in small socials or meetings that involve German films, music, food, and activities. The German Club at VCU doesn’t host many large-scale events, so this organization is perfect for students that don’t have much time to offer or are looking for a more intimate setting.

5. Arabhi

Arabhi is a fairly new student organization at VCU; it was founded in the fall semester of 2015. The club is VCU’s first and only Indian vocal group. Students who audition and are accepted into the group perform at various places around the VCU campus and the city of Richmond. Performances typically feature classical and traditional aspects of Indian vocals. Arabhi only meets for about one-and-a-half to two hours per week, so their schedule isn’t super demanding on your time.

6. Persian Club at VCU

The Persian Club at VCU is arguably one of the most active cultural organizations at the university. It has over active 400 members that participate in regular meetings. However, the organization is best known for their extravagant theme nights (Persian Night) and their annual Persian New Year Gala. The Persian Club at VCU works to promote solidarity amongst students with Persian heritage, as well as inform others who are interested in learning more about the varieties of cultures represented by this club.

VCU fosters a very welcoming environment that harbors people from all walks of life. The extensive variety of cultural clubs, organizations, and events (of which only a few are listed above) allow students of the university to explore the diversity that exists within its boundaries.

6 Political Clubs at VCU

For many students, college is a time for expanding your mind in a variety of ways. Some students choose to get very active in politics, especially because it is many students’ first few years of having the ability to vote. For students who are interested in getting more politically active, VCU offers a number of student organizations that deal with politics. Listed below are just six of the thirteen different political student organizations at VCU.

NextGen at VCU

NextGen at VCU is a small part of the larger NextGen Rising (NextGen America) movement, which works to increase awareness of climate change, justice for immigrants, access to affordable health care, and to protect the fundamental rights of Americans. They work to do this through encouraging other students on campus to register to vote and stay aware of local, state, and federal elections. NextGen also sponsors fun activities and events to engage students in progressive political conversation.

Model United Nations

Model United Nations is an organization in which students roleplay the parts of delegates in the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council. Students are assigned the role of representing a specific country and work together to simulate political conversations of diplomacy, negotiation, and decision making. Participation in Model UN requires substantial researching on global topics, public speaking skills, debating/arguing skills, and writing skills. Students in Model UN should also be proficient in working in teams, as you have to be able to work as a community during the conferences that feature delegates from other schools.

Virginia21 at VCU

The Virginia21 branch at VCU is a small part of a state-wide initiative to inform and advocate for millenials, specifically students. However, they are based in Richmond because it is the state capitol, so the VCU chapter of the organization is very robust. Virginia21 works on issues regarding affordability of college tuition, campus sexual assault, financial aid, and several other issues that directly affect today’s students. They are non-partisan, meaning they do not affiliate with a specific party, because they believe that the issues that face college students in today’s society go beyond political party lines.

College Republicans of VCU

The College Republicans of VCU work to promote and support conservative values within the VCU community. This involves connecting conservatives and non-conservatives to engage in dialogue regarding social issues in the community. It also involves reaching out to all levels of government, within and outside of the VCU campus, to promote the conservation of Republican values. The organization holds bi-weekly meetings that are announced on their Facebook page, and they often feature guest speakers, social events, and community service activities that align with the group’s beliefs.

Young Democrats at VCU

The Young Democrats at VCU work to meet a number of objectives that relate to the Democratic agenda. This includes increasing awareness of political activity amongst young people, promoting Democratic candidates and the Democratic Party as a whole, and to develop young peoples’ skills to pursue Democratic positions of leadership. The organization maintains a close relationship with the members of the Virginia General Assembly and works hard to improve the lives of the members of the VCU, Richmond, and Virginia community. You can find them on a number of different social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Sociologists for Women in Society

Sociologists for Women in Society is a non-profit, feminist organization that works to promote social justice and gender equality. They achieve this through local, state, and national activism that focuses on the development of feminist theory. Another goal of the organization is to promote feminism through female leadership throughout both the club and the university as a whole. This organization is great for students of all genders that are seeking to express their support for the feminist movement.

VCU is widely considered to be a ‘liberal university’, but in actuality, there is a variety of political affiliations that are represented through the student organizations at VCU. Students who identify with all political parties are sure to find something that suits their beliefs. However, if they don’t, there is no reason to be discouraged! VCU is very open about adding new organizations, so if you have a political organization that you would like to begin, try speaking to someone at the Student Commons about founding a club.

5 Things You Need to Know About Rodney Ram at VCU

Rodney the Ram is the beloved mascot of Virginia Commonwealth University. Students can usually find him on the sidelines of VCU Athletic events, specifically the men’s basketball games. However, many VCU students do not know much about Rodney Ram’s history and all that he offers the campus today. Listed below are five essential facts about Rodney Ram.

1. He has been around since 1963

Rodney the Ram has been the school mascot for VCU since before the school was even known as Virginia Commonwealth University. He was first introduced to replace the Green Devil, which was the former mascot of the Richmond Professional Institute (VCU‘s former name). He used to wear the colors of RPI, which were blue and grey, but Rodney switched to a version of the black and gold costume that VCU students know and love today in 1968 when RPI merged with the Medical College of Virginia.


2. He has his own emoji set

In January of 2017, Ree Stickers partnered with VCU to produce 26 Rodney the Ram emoji stickers that could be included as a part of Ree’s sticker keyboard. Some of the stickers show Rodney in his traditional stance, while others show him cheering for the team or holding signs with phrases like “Go, team, go!” Full access to the app, which gives you the use of all 26 stickers, only costs $1.99. However, there is a free version of the app that grants users access to six of the most basic sticker designs. The app originally only supported iOS platforms, but now has an Android development as well.


3. He is occasionally accompanied

Most students know Rodney Ram to be a lone-wolf of sorts. Few students are aware that Rodney Ram has actually been accompanied in the past at basketball games and other events. One of his companions was a version of Rodney the Ram called Air Rodney. However, the other companion was a different animal called Rhonda the Ewe.


4. He can be requested for events

If you are interested in having Rodney Ram make a visit to an event that you are hosting, you can find a form to request his appearance on the VCU Athletics website. Rodney is available for times as short as half an hour to times as long as 2 hours, but each time interval comes at a different price. For an hour or less of time with Rodney, the fee is $50. For two hours with Rodney, the fee is $100. The application request does not guarantee that Rodney will be available for your event due to the number of prior engagements (basketball games, charity events, etc.) that he has to attend, but you will not be charged until after Rodney has confirmed his visit.


5. He is mildly famous

Rodney the Ram has a number of achievements to list on his resume. He was ranked as number 14 in BleacherReport.com’s list of top 50 mascots in college basketball and attended the 2011 Celebrity Mascot Games in Orlando, Florida. In addition, Rodney has been featured on several news programs, such as NBC’s The Today Show and CBS’s The Early Show. Rodney is also the star of his own children’s book, Rodney the Ram Teaches Teamwork, written by former VCU student Stephanie McNamara. Aside from his off-campus recognition, Rodney the Ram is extremely well-known and well-loved around the VCU campus.


Rodney Ram has a long history of enriching not only the athletic environments of VCU, but the university as a whole as well. Yes, he is the university mascot. However, he is also just as much a part of VCU‘s culture and student population as much as the actual students are.

5 Things You Need to Know About the Tunnel of Oppression at VCU

VCU held its first Tunnel of Oppression event in the spring of 2017. The event is scheduled to take place for the second time in March of 2018, and is intended to be bigger and better than the event in the past. Listed below are five most important things that you need to know about the Tunnel of Oppression event at VCU.


The Tunnel of Oppression is an event hosted by VCU, led particularly by student initiative, that acts as an active simulation for participants to experience a fraction of the struggles faced by those with marginalized identities.  Such identities include those with mental health issues, LGBTQIA+ community members, undocumented students, people of color. The Tunnel of Oppression also addresses the way the media portrays marginalized identities and how that affects people’s perspectives. At the end of the Tunnel of Oppression, there is a Tunnel of Hope; this area encourages students and faculty members who have passed through the tunnel to discuss their experiences and opinions, as well as converse in a safe space about the oppression they face in their everyday lives.


The Tunnel of Oppression is sponsored primarily by the VCU Office of Multicultural Affairs, but is also sponsored by other on-campus organizations and departments and involves many student volunteers. Last year, students volunteered to record audio clips to enhance the experience, but this year the planners of the event are hoping to include student actors to act out situations of discrimination or oppression. The event is open for all VCU students and faculty members to attend.


The Tunnel of Oppression is held throughout the entire second floor of the University Student Commons, which is a fairly central location on the Monroe Park Campus. It is also located just upstairs of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (the primary sponsor of the event). The Tunnel of Oppression is not a literal tunnel, but actually takes place in the several different rooms- all of which feature a different marginalized identity.


The first Tunnel of Oppression event at VCU occurred in the first week of April in 2017. This year, the event will take place around the same time, but only slightly earlier. The Tunnel of Oppression is scheduled to be on display from March 26th-28th, which is about two weeks after students return from Spring Break. These days fall on a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so it is important for you to plan ahead if you want to attend, especially if you’d like to go with a group of friends or peers.


The ultimate mission of the Tunnel of Oppression is to educate VCU community members of the issues and trials that marginalized identities face on a day-to-day basis within the bounds of VCU and the city of Richmond. Sponsors of the event find it important that participants are exposed to a variety of diverse perspectives to help them make more informed, respectful decisions. Students who have participated in the Tunnel of Oppression event have described it as a very emotional but worthwhile experience, from which they learned a lot about the struggles faced by the marginalized identities within their communities.

The Tunnel of Oppression is a fairly new event on a large scale, but is an especially new event to the VCU campus. However, it is a particularly valuable event to experience for all who attend due to its powerful, emotional, and informative message. If you have a keen interest in gaining a better understanding of people who are different from you, mark your calendars for the 2018 Tunnel of Oppression event at VCU.

5 Benefits of Joining STAT at VCU

Students Today Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) is a very prominent organization at VCU; it is both one of the largest and most active organizations. Students can pay a fee of $20 annually or $70 for all four years to become a member. Joining STAT gives students a number of various benefits, some of which are listed below.

1. Alumni Connections

The main function of STAT is to act as a connection between current VCU students and the university alumni. These alumni connections can be especially helpful when students are looking for academic advice regarding their intended major or specific classes, as well as students looking for professional advice regarding career paths and possible job opportunities.  At least 70% of jobs are found through networking, through alumni connections or otherwise, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. This means that the access to the VCU alumni network is one of the most valuable benefits granted to STAT members.


2. Free T-Shirts!

One of the first things that any STAT member will tell you is that students who join the organization get TONS of free t-shirts. Some of them are just general VCU shirts, while others are related to specific events or organizations on campus. The retail value of these shirts can be anywhere from $5-$20, and you can get up to 20 shirts over the course of a full year, so the amount of free t-shirts you can receive basically pays for the fee of the membership in and of itself. Students love getting these t-shirts as a benefit because they are great for representing your school spirit and make for wonderful pajama shirts.


3. One Free Jonah’s Pastry

STAT is an organization centered around building personal connections within the VCU community. Even though STAT is one of the largest VCU organizations, it still emphasizes the importance of the individual, which is why they recognize each members’ birthday with a coupon for one free dessert item at Jonah’s Culinary Emporium on the MCV Campus. Jonah’s is well-known around VCU to serve gourmet-level desserts like cheesecake, chocolate tortes, and a variety of cookies and brownies. Join STAT to enjoy an extra (free) treat on your birthday this year!


4. Discounts Around Campus

One of students’ most favorite benefits of joining STAT is the various discounts offered by businesses around the VCU campus. For example, Papa John’s at VCU offers a 25% discount for all STAT members who order online, and Sweet Frog offers a 15% discount on all frozen yogurt purchases made at the Monroe Park location. In addition, Plaza Art on W. Grace Street offers a 20% discount for STAT members, and the VCU cafe inside of Barnes and Noble offers a 20% discount for students during the month of their birthday.


5. Free Red Eye Cookie after Men’s Basketball Game

This benefit is a little harder to reap, but it definitely still exists! Red Eye Cookie Co., located at 935 W. Grace Street, offers free cookies to the first 100 STAT members to visit the store after a men’s basketball game. The offer is valid for 24 hours after the game, so if you don’t have time immediately after the event and less than 100 people visit the shop, then you stand a chance to still get a free cookie the next day!


While Students Today Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) is one of the few student organizations on the VCU campus to require a membership fee, it is also arguably one of the most valuable student organizations at VCU. It offers a variety of academic, professional, financial, and personal benefits that make it a worthwhile organization to join and invest time into. If you want to get the most out of your VCU experience during and after your time at the university, then you might want to consider joining STAT!



6 Service Organizations at VCU

Many students seek service or volunteer opportunities as a way to build their resumes through learning new skills or gaining real-world experience, building professional or personal connections, and/or to get inspired and gain perspective in their communities. Within the more than 500 student organizations at VCU, there are around 50 service organizations that connect students with volunteer opportunities around the VCU campus and the Richmond community. Listed below are just six of the many organizations that VCU students can join to engage in volunteer work.

1. Children of a Better World

Many children face emotional issues such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to maltreatment in biological or foster/adoptive homes. Children of a Better World works to combat this issue, specifically in the Richmond community, through a mentorship program that allows children at risk for PTSD and other mental/emotional health issues to engage with other children in risky environments. This would include children living in orphanages and refugee camps. The ultimate goals of the organization are to help children develop positive self-images as well as promote community engagement at a young age.

2. Global Water Brigades at VCU

Global Water Brigades at VCU is a chapter in an international non-profit organization whose main goal is to promote access to clean water and general global health. It is the world’s largest student-led global health and sustainable development organization. Students who work with Global Water Brigades at VCU have the opportunity to work domestically and to travel abroad in order to research, design, and construct projects that support sustainable solutions to water crises around the world. This can include digging trenches, connecting pipes, and providing communities with education regarding their general health and ways to improve it.

3. Habitat For Humanity

This is another VCU chapter of an international, non-profit organization. The goal of Habitat for Humanity is to build homes for families in the community facing poverty or other crises. Students who volunteer with the VCU chapter of Habitat for Humanity will have the opportunity to not only work hands-on on construction sites in the community, but will also organize fundraisers to support the overall funding of Habitat for Humanity International. If you have a particular interest in volunteering for organizations that work to find solutions for poverty or substandard housing, Habitat for Humanity might be worth checking out.

4. I RISE at VCU

I RISE is an organization that is working to spread to D.C. and Maryland, but was founded at VCU by a student named Kevin Amir Ghaffari in 2015. The goal of the organization is to help the homeless members of the community in an efficient and innovative way. Students that work with I RISE will be given the opportunity to work hands-on with a homeless community member to help them gain a level of self-sufficiency regarding their health, finances, career, housing, etc. This club is especially active at VCU due to the large homeless population that lives on or around the VCU campus.

5. Queen In You – VCU

Queen In You is an organization that works to promote the professional empowerment of women of color. The organization does not discriminate based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious backgrounds, despite being centered around women of color. Members of Queen In You work closely with the primary education schools in the area to mentor young girls of color in professional etiquette, self-esteem, scholarship, and service. They meet bimonthly to discuss community service, fundraisers, and other events like balls or dances.

6. The Baby Box Project at VCU

Research from Finland shows that baby boxes, boxes of clothes and blankets for newborns that can then be turned into a bed, significantly reduce infant mortality. That is why certain VCU students founded the Baby Box Project chapter at VCU, which works to provide new mothers in the community with baby boxes in order to help them live a stress-free postpartum experience. They are strong believers that a happy mother makes for a happy baby. If you have in interest in serving underprivileged mothers or infants in the community, you might want to consider volunteering with the Baby Box Project.

Richmond as a city faces a number of major humanitarian issues, all of which require careful tending to in order to work towards a resolution. VCU and its community of students have worked for years to leave a positive impact on the Richmond community, which is part of the reason that it offers so many service organizations for students to get involved in. If any of the listed organizations above do not suit you, try looking into the other service clubs at VCU, as there are many more for you to choose from and you are bound to find one that interests you.

9 Living-Learning Communities on the VCU Campus

VCU offers a number of “Living-Learning” communities for students looking to enhance their residential experience during their time on campus. The goal of the programs is to place students in residential environments that enforce concepts of a focused topic in every day life. The communities cater to a variety of interest, academic focuses, and lifestyle preferences to suit the need of all students. Listed below are all nine of the Living-Learning communities at VCU.


THRIVE is a community that is located in Rhoads Hall, and focuses on students’ general wellness. The community often hosts events featuring yoga, destressing techniques, fitness, and nutritional information. Members of the THRIVE community tend to enjoy being outdoors and have a passion for wellness. In order to qualify for this community, students must enroll in UNIV 291 (Science of Happiness).


2. The Honors College

The Honors College program is for high-achieving students, and this community houses most of the first-year and upperclassmen students that are involved in the Honors College. The community lives in a separate building on West Grace Street that is said to have more spacious rooms. Housing all of the Honors College students in one building allows for greater communication and interaction between peers. In order to get involved with this community, you must complete a separate academic application from the general VCU application.


3. Mosaic

Mosaic is a living-learning community that is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and is located in Cary & Belvidere. The environment is meant to be one of multiculture, which can include identities under race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, socioeconomic status, religion, and various other differences. Mosaic highlights the diverse population of VCU and the students involved often work within the community to address social justice issues.


4. LEAD Explorers

LEAD Explorers is a community located in the Grace & Broad Residence Center. Their main focus is helping students become better leaders in their classrooms, communities, and careers. Students involved with this community can come from any major and will be exposed to exclusive workshops, guest speakers, and trips. There are two main requirements to join this community. First, first-year students must attend RAM Camp before classes begin. Secondly, students must enroll in LDRS 200 (Profiles in Leadership), which is a one-credit seminar offered in the fall semester.


5. Lavender House

Lavender House is a community focused around providing an inclusive space for VCU‘s LGBTQIA+ students. Located in Cary & Belvidere, the community works to allow queer students to fully express themselves. It is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, who help host monthly events for the community regarding identities, history, and community concerns. In order to live in this community, you must enroll in UNI 291 (Exploring Diversity, Identity, and Social Justice).


6. Global Village

Global Village is a community that focuses on providing a space for students to learn about other cultures. The students that live in this community will be housed in Brandt Hall and will have the unique opportunity to interact with both domestic and international students of a variety of different cultures. The community is highlighted by its exclusive opportunities or advancements towards studying abroad and is great for students trying to gain a larger global perspective. Students who wish to live in the Global Village must enroll in GLED 101 (Intro to VCU Globe and Study Abroad).


7. Emerging Leaders

Emerging Leaders is a highly exclusive community that is only available to students who are invited. It is a one-year living program where students are paired up with upperclassmen mentors to help them learn about leadership skills. These skills are very useful for application both in classes at VCU and in the professional world. If you are accepted for the Emerging Leaders program, you will automatically be registered to attend RAM Camp, and will live in the Grace & Broad Residence Center.


8. Ecovillage

Ecovillage is located in West Grace South Residence Hall and houses students who show great interest in protecting the environment. The community is sponsored by the VCU Sustainability Department, so they focus heavily on sustainability projects involving reducing water and energy usage, learning to garden, and community outreach. Students who wish to live in this environment must enroll in LDRS 200 (Profiles in Leadership).


10. Acceleration

Acceleration is a community in Brandt Hall for students who are interested in pursing a career in health sciences. This can include students seeking professions in medicine, dentistry, pharmaceuticals, or nursing. Students who live in Acceleration are required to complete a 4-week long summer program that exposes them to healthcare professions as well as math and science workshops that prepare students for their courses. There are no specific required courses needed to live here, but there is a separate housing application for students to fill out.


These dedicated residential areas allow students at VCU to possess a deeper level of understanding of their respective focuses and enables students to receive better, more individualized support. Studies conducted by the university show that students that lived in Living Learning Communities often felt better connected to the university and had richer experiences thanks to the communities that they lived in. If any of these communities interest you at all, you can find more information about them and how to be a part of them on the VCU Residential Life and Housing website.

6 Grocery Stores Near VCU

Let’s face it: our families send us off to college with an entire hoard of snacks, health and hygiene products, and beauty products, which is great… until you run out of what you need within a few weeks of being on campus. Luckily, shopping for these items is fairly easy on the VCU campus, as there are many places within walking/biking distance that students can visit in order to purchase their “grocery” needs. Below is a guide to all of these stores, including their locations, hours, best products, or any other important information.

1. Kroger

Many students consider the Kroger at 901 N. Lombardy St. to be the best place near the Monroe Park Campus to get general food groceries and laundry items. They have a great selection (that of a regular grocery store) and some students like to pick out items from the deli/prepared food section. As for laundry products, Kroger has one of the largest assortment of merchandise around campus at decent prices. Students with cars will drive to do their shopping here, but it isn’t more than a 15 minute walk from Monroe Park, so it is easily accessible by biking or walking. Kroger often sets up tents at VCU events to encourage students to download their app, where they can receive coupons and weekly ads.


2. Student Health Center

The Student Health Center, located at 1300 W. Broad Street across from the Bowe Street Parking Deck, isn’t just for making doctor’s appointments. Their pharmacy, which is located within the clinic on the second floor, offers students heavily discounted medications. Students have access to prescriptions through doctors at the clinic, or can just stop in for simple things like over-the-counter cough syrup or Tylenol. The Student Health Center is open from 8am-5pm Monday-Friday, so make sure to stop in there for your pharmaceutical needs before the weekend begins.


3. Walmart (On-Campus)

Almost all incoming VCU students assume that the Walmart on campus is a full-sized store, but don’t be fooled! The Walmart at 912 W. Grace Street is only 4,100 square feet, and offers a limited selection of snacks and very basic kitchen/bathroom items. The location, which is fairly central to campus, makes it easy to walk to and a convenient for stop and go shopping and quick grabs. They have a fully-functioning pharmacy, so students with prescriptions that cannot be filled by the Student Health Pharmacy can get their medications from here.


4. POD Market

The POD Market is located in the VCU Student Commons and offers a small selection of non-perishable snacks and small meals. The very convenient, on-campus location is nice, but the best thing about the POD Market is that they accept Dining Dollars and RamBucks, so you can purchase items with your meal plan. This store isn’t a great location for full grocery shopping, and they do not offer any health and beauty products, but students love visiting the POD Market after class to get a quick snack or a cold drink.


5. Harris Hall Convenience Store

The Harris Hall Convenience Store is fairly similar to the POD Market. It is located in the center of the first floor of Harris Hall and offers students and faculty easy access to quick snacks and bottled beverages. They also have sandwiches and small salads for swipes (the main VCU dining currency), which is convenient for students who are restricted to eating only off their dining plans. Students love to go to the Convenience Store in Harris Hall around the time they have classes; people especially love to visit it when they have short breaks between classes and don’t have time for a full meal. The store is open Monday through Friday and opens as early as 7:30am to serve early-morning workers.


6. Rite-Aid

The Rite-Aid located at 520 W. Broad Street is close enough to the Monroe Park Campus for students to walk to it. Many students who wear makeup appreciate their selection of drug-store brand cosmetics at fair prices. Some students prefer the Rite-Aid pharmacy over the other pharmacies in the area because they offer a relatively full selection of both prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. They offer a small selection of snacks and non-perishable food items, as well as a few basic office items.


For many students, their time at college is the first time in their lives that they have to shop for their own grocery items. Some college campuses make this a difficult or inconvenient task, but the Monroe Park Campus at VCU has several options for students to shop for the products that they need. Whether you are looking for snacks or ingredients for a whole meal, prescriptions or over-the-counter medications, or cosmetics or other beauty products, you are sure to find what you need between the stores included on this guide.