Staff Editorial: Group Housing and Campus Culture

It’s that time of year again. The mad scramble to find a place to live has begun – paying your deposit, registering for classes and picking up a housing contract from Campus Life to see those four little numbers that could change your life – your housing lottery number. There are a few people on campus though for whom the housing lottery number does not apply. These are the students who are applying for group housing. At Lawrence University, group housing – which includes quad houses, small houses, and lofts – provides students with a space to develop a community around shared values and interests. This process operates independently of regular housing selection. Group housing is also intended to benefit the campus by hosting activities open to the whole community and satisfying the needs of campus climate. The selection process will be important in shaping the events and culture of campus in the 2018-2019 school year. So what does the process look like, and what does campus have to gain from groups who will be granted group housing?

Each new group applying for group housing must have their Student Contact and Residence Life Manager complete Bystander Intervention Training. Groups that are reapplying must have at least 50% of their house’s current residents complete Bystander Intervention Training in the last four terms before the application deadline. Bystander Intervention Training is an hour long program held by Student Alliance Against Sexual Harassment and Assault (SAASHA), an “official LUCC standing committee committed to ending sexual violence on the Lawrence University campus by facilitating discussion, education, and awareness about issues of sexual misconduct,” according to their Lawrence webpage. Bystander Intervention is ideally meant to be an interactive way to build effective skills in handling issues of sexual violence. Groups applying for housing must also have a clear and concrete plan for how their space will be inclusive to all races, genders, nationalities, etc.

Each group that is applying for group housing then makes a pitch to the Selection Committee, which is comprised of a board of Lawrence students. Groups deliver a brief 15-minute pitch as to why they are suited for group housing. Ideally, group housing applications and pitches should be about how groups will improve the lives of students on campus. Groups must have plans for activities and events that are open to campus throughout the course of the school year and such events must clearly advance the goals of the group and of the university. In addition, each group applying for housing needs to have plans for community service. Similar to open-to-campus events, community service plans should include a multitude of activities throughout the year and should work to create strong communication between a variety of groups on campus and should strengthen the Lawrence and Appleton communities as a whole. In all, it is important that groups granted housing nail two important factors: they should improve campus through service and fun, interactive community-building events.

For example, there are two unique applicants for housing this year: Delta Tau Delta, who is reapplying after being stripped of their house in years past, and the Child Advocacy Loft (CAL), the only non-LUCC affiliated organization applying for group housing. Delta Tau Delta, for example, lost their house last year due to an application that wasn’t complete or concise to the standards of the group housing committee; through the process, the organization has revised bylaws that are more beneficial to campus, including having more focus on campus events, such as formals, and a Blanket Drive in collaboration with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. CAL, on the other hand, hopes to create the means for their residents and other Lawrence students to increase their youth-oriented service and connect with the greater Appleton community. CAL needs a group housing space to organize volunteer programming geared towards youth advocacy: residents can participate in a series of activities for prospective student engagement, such as movies, gaming, and a casual Q&A about campus climate.