Staff Editorial

Residence life at Lawrence is a chance to be part of a community; to find friendship, support, and entertainment in the place where you live. Most of us are required to live on campus for the entirety of our stay at Lawrence, and we can be sure that this is a calculated part of the “Lawrence Difference” – a building block for the unity of our campus and our own sense of wellbeing. But residence hall programs, an integral part of the on-campus living experience, are not equally helpful to everyone.
Clearly, freshmen have a great time in the dorms – they make up the largest part of the population, and they are all together in the same boat, being newly arrived, equally vulnerable, and equally needful of a residential community. Upperclassmen, on the other hand, tend to live with friends they made long ago, in suites, quads, or formal group housing. Although not always the case, some upperclassmen live in residence halls because of an unlucky lottery number, the preference for a single room, or plans to study abroad during the year. In these instances, living amongst excitable, social freshmen who are in the midst of building a community is not always desirable. And whether or not all of us are participating in the residence hall pancake breakfast or marathon bowling excursion, we are, however, all paying an activities fee of $27. This is not a huge amount of money, but wouldn’t it be better if everyone could benefit from such an investment?
We propose that residence halls, as well as theme houses, make an effort to put on more programs that reach beyond their own roofs, to other parts of campus. We have seen a handful of these sorts of programs take place, such as former Plantz RHD Liz Matelski’s Backyard Barbecue, sponsored by Plantz Hall, and Ormsby’s Zoo Days, which was organized by both Ormsby and Colman Hall last year. Programs like these would appeal to a wider spectrum of students and would thereby strengthen Lawrence community overall. Upperclassmen would be more likely to attend, because their friends at the theme house down the street would be there, or because they could bring their friends along with them without seeming out of place. In fact, they might even end up talking to some intriguing freshmen.
Many of us remember how alive our campus felt that weekend in May of 2005 when Shackathon, Zoo Days, Art Plethora and Shish-ka-Quad all took place at the same time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to create that sense of campus community and engagement more often? We think that more inclusive residence hall programs are a good place to start.