Off campus students get to experience their own type of residence life in Laurier Brantford’s first year Laurier Off-Campus University Students, or LOCUS, program.

“If you’re commuting it’s something you have to experience because it’s just like residence,” said Pasquale Centritto, a LOCUS member from the 2014/2015 year, who is preparing to begin as an off campus advisor this September.

In the LOCUS program, students are broken up into small groups called “communities” lead by off campus advisors (OCA).

Communities run their own events in order to establish close relationships and also participate in large events with all of the LOCUS communities. like capture the flag in Harmony Square, de-stressors, bowling, Halloween and more.

“It gave me a place where I didn’t have to be shy,” said former LOCUS member Marissa Gale.

LOCUS is intended to help students’ academic and social transition from high school to university; it is meant to further students’ independence.

“We really just want to focus more on the student experience this year,” said program assistant Melissa Ehrlich.

Ehrlich stated that “additional portfolios” would be added to the program come September. Community leaders will pair up with an OCA to cover one of three sections of focus: academic success, student wellness and campus outreach. Within each section, OCAs will run events or information meetings designed to help inform students about everything they need to know in order to have a successful first year.

Last year, LOCUS saw majority of its members express a great deal of appreciation toward their OCAs and the relationships the program worked to develop. This year Ehrlich is working to ensure that OCAs are well prepared to create and maintain those relationships within their assigned communities.

Ehrlich wants the OCAs to be role models but also friends. She explained how important it is for a student to have someone to go to who is not intimidating.

“I was not ready to be in university; I didn’t want to go. I guess being an OCA is helping a student that could be in my shoes this time next year so I could maybe help them through it,” said Centritto.

LOCUS is a flexible service that allows students to take what they want from the program without obligations or commitments.

Mitchell Higgins, a former LOCUS member is glad he participated in the program, “you get everything from fun nights doing capture the flag to exam tips … you always come out with something, no matter how big or how small you’ll come out with something, and you’ll be so happy that you went into it because I know I was.”