Campus housing changes affect LU’s social atmosphere

Every year at Lawrence, we see a new community with a new attitude. Some classes are more active than others, with more people going out on weekends or more folks pulling late nights in the library. With another significant shift in campus group housing this year, upperclassmen are welcoming a new freshman class into another shifting social dynamic. The change from the rowdy Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) house to the more reserved Sankofa last year pushed the Lawrence party scene to Beta Theta Phi (Beta) and Delta Tau Delta (Delt). With SigEp’s reinstatement—this time on Boldt Way—and key houses in their second year, will there be another dramatic shift in Lawrence’s atmosphere? This author’s guess is that we’ve got a lot of houses with a lot to prove, both to the administration and to campus-at-large.

At Lawrence, proximity is key. Given that SigEp will now be located on the normally quiet Union Street—replacing another key source of Union Street activities—will Union Street be a destination? Art House has seen success creating the social atmosphere with interesting live performances and art shows—even during the challenging Appleton winter. While the school may only be two square blocks, that’s two square blocks to walk in minus 20 degree winters.

SigEp’s notoriety around campus is sure to draw interest from the freshmen and sophomores who have never known a campus with a SigEp house. For the juniors and seniors, though, the question remains: is the walk worth freezing? We have seen SigEp at full tilt, so will they be welcomed back?

While SigEp has had a rough few years, they are mostly a new bunch whom have—for all intents and purposes—gotten things together. This newfound responsibility may be enough to convince some members of campus to renew interest in the fraternity. Or so it may be hoped.

Beyond the reinstatement of the SigEp house, campus has a solidified and unified Boldt Way housing system. With Sankofa in their second year, I know I would love more opportunities to get involved with them. Their discussion series last year brought to light interesting problems—#BlackLivesMatter, sexual preferences and race in the media to name a few—in a public forum, and allowed Lawrentians to grow closer through overcoming the adversity inherent in diversity. Further opportunities to socialize, courtesy of Sankofa house, would also be a welcome addition to the roster of what to do and who to see.

With Delt and Beta remaining the only outwardly active fraternities on Boldt Way, one has to wonder if they will be willing to start cooperating and sharing the love. Cooperation on events between these groups could see the entire campus out on the quad in the sun, a beautiful sight to be sure, and rarely seen outside of LU-aroo. If these two groups can work out their differences (and maybe even include the rest of Boldt?), exciting campus-wide events are sure to come.

Speaking of fraternities on Boldt Way, we are inevitably brought to the redheaded stepchild of Lawrence fraternity life—Phi Kappa Tau. This group of guys has not been very active in the Boldt Way scene, a trend I would personally love to see change. They have shown that they are more than capable of having fun—I recommend listening around for activation—and the rest of campus just wants in! Having a house without a real party space makes things inherently difficult, so this may be a wonderful opportunity for some inter-fraternity counseling and cooperating.

Outdoors and Recreation Club (ORC), Slug and Greenfire are not likely to see dramatic social shifts with groups coming in that do not look too different from last year. That being said, I personally love these houses and their ways. Pay attention for live music events, opportunities to get involved with a nationally recognized sustainable garden and trips to the middle of nowhere with your local ORC Haus-er.

Speaking of live music events, keep an ear out for Sinfonia and Art House—both coming at you from Union Street! They should be coming out swinging this fall with some excellent performances to get back on top of their game. With strong lineups in both houses, these groups have every opportunity to make this year fantastic.

To round things up, we have an exciting year here at Lawrence. Keep one eye on your textbooks—you can’t come to these events if you fail out—and the other on your favorite social media. Here’s to hoping for a strong start to a lively year here at Lawrence.