Changes for on-campus houses in 2006-2007

Nora G. Hertel

Housing is an integral aspect of student life at Lawrence. As a residential college, students are expected to live on campus with few exceptions such as a domestic partnership–including marriage–or a dependent child.
To accommodate the majority of students fixed on campus, residence life expands beyond dormitories. Theme and formal group residences add to Lawrence’s various housing options and display the interests of the campus community.
Each year housing selection committees allocate houses designated for student groups. Formal group housing refers to student organizations that request a house to support and expand their mission, i.e. fraternities or the Outdoor Recreation Club.
Themed houses do not require an established organization but consist of a group of students sharing a common interest. Theme houses are selected by an all-student committee and are only guaranteed one year of residency.
Formal group houses are allowed a three-year contract because they have “more group stability and longer-term goals and status,” explained Amy Uecke, the Associate Dean of Students for Residence Life.
Last year, theme and formal houses went to Lawrence’s five fraternities in the Quad and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, as well as the Yuais, ORC, Co-op, Greenfire, Swing Dancing and Computer Science groups. Computer Science remains as the only themed house; all the others are formal group houses based on student organizations.
Every year brings changes in the housing layout, but some houses seem to be fixtures. Amy Uecke explained that organizations that reapply can draw on the good experiences in and rapport with a specific house. For this reason many fraternities maintain their house year after year.
The Co-op made their home in the Hulbert House until this year, when plans for the new student center moved them across campus. Senior Clare Raccuglia, a Co-op member, commented, “Everyone liked the character of the old Hulbert House.”
However, she admitted that Co-op’s new house at 122 N. Union has its perks. “It’s nice not to have animals in the walls, at least so far.”
Another big change in group housing occurred when the Yuais surrendered their house. This change made room for GLOW to have a house. Gus Christensen, an active member of both the Yuais and GLOW, is optimistic about the change for both groups.
Regarding the Yuais, Gus said, “Without a house, I think we will be more conscious of who we are and what we do, instead of passively letting a smelly house mold our image.”
He can already see the benefits of the GLOW house, as it is “a refuge where people know their opinions will be respected.”
Omitting Hulbert House from the list of available group houses stiffened the competition this year. Despite a move, Co-op secured their place, as did the Computer Science house. SMEE was unable to hold onto 217 North Union St, an eviction that has caused minor waves.
Former SMEE house resident Paul Karner expressed some frustration that the housing allocation process left no room for appeals. He noted that members of other organizations sympathized with SMEE’s loss. In fact, Gus Christensen confessed, “I still feel guilty for living in the old SMEE house.”
Next year, many houses will apply to retain their place on campus while continuing to make a place for students interested in their mission or theme. Every house is expected to be open to students throughout the Lawrence community and thereby encouraging unity through specialized housing, not exclusion.