A resident of Voodis responds to campus concerns

Voodis lives in the house which was occupied by WLFM until this fall. Photo by Rongyan Song.

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I am a resident of the Voodis House, the group residence presiding between International House and Big Exec. By late August, two of my housemates and I had moved into the house three weeks before the Fall Term began and lived in relative blissful silence for about a week. One night after coming back from a volleyball tournament at around 10 p.m., someone posted on Yik Yak that they were “pulling up” to the Voodis House and proceeded to comment that they were in front of the house. 

At this time, no Voodis member had announced any type of gathering; we were three people doing work throughout the day and exhaustedly coming back home every night. After six hours of practice every day, I just wanted to sleep in peace, but that post put my guard up, especially considering there were times I was completely alone in the house. Granted, I could easily see this as a joke and move on, but how would you feel if someone posted anonymously that they were coming to your house? I had no idea what to do at that moment, but I acknowledged that the situation was odd and that it stemmed from months of mounting rumors and assumptions escalating under the generic label of “Voodis.” Thus, I acknowledged at that time that I would eventually like to address the underlying tensions between the Voodis house and several members and organizations on this campus.   

Recently, Appleton Students for a Democratic Society made a post on Instagram condemning the Viking Room for allowing members of the Voodis collective to play a set in that establishment. @appleton_sds wrote, “Voodis has continued to collaborate and associate themselves with people accused of abuse and SA for over a year…showing the Lawrence community that they don’t care about their actions.” Note: This is not the complete post, but I encourage anyone who’s curious to read it at @appleton_sds on Instagram. 

Considering no one from the collective was contacted or even made aware of SDS’ sentiments prior to publishing this post, I consider this to be an act of misplaced virtue signaling and an utter disrespect to several people within the house who have taken measures to mediate any alleged harm or offenses committed against individuals on this campus. Regarding the post specifically, its content is extremely vague, as it implies that the accused individual has remained an active member participant within the band and the collective, which is not the case. Furthermore, the post uses the term “members of Voodis”; the collective has collaborated with a plethora of musicians, artists and fashion designers, most of which have been Lawrence students. Who fits under this label? Furthermore, ever since the Spring Term, not one Voodis member was ever formally approached by any Lawrence-affiliated organization, Title IX or otherwise, regarding the required steps the collective should take. 

Even so, some members of Voodis in fact did take proper measures to ensure that the collective is an inclusive space for any individual.  Jonah Trudeau, one of the founding Voodis members, said, “We posted an open forum to address community concerns and get feedback, we met with SAASHA to figure out how to best handle the situation and how to make our house and organization a safe place where anyone feels like they can come and be involved, and we made changes to our roster as an organization and as a band.” Finally, a call for a boycott of any Voodis performances like the post makes in order “to show that there is zero tolerance for associating with abusers here at Lawrence” directly aligns Voodis with ideologies we do not espouse to and people who no longer participate in any of the collective’s activities or events. To a casual observer, this post validates and escalates any claims made against the collective, further sullying an organization which only wants to produce art alongside other creatives.    

To me, the house is a hub in which artists of all skills expand their crafts through collaborative multimedia projects and efforts. My roommate, Eden Sorensen, is a photographer and artist interested in women’s multifaceted nature as both subjects and active participants in her work. One of my housemates, Xavier Yon, also known as NORCOM, is an aspiring recording artist who writes and engineers all his songs, unveiling his streams of consciousness for verses upon verses. I could go down the list of my other twelve, and soon-to-be fourteen, housemates; for the sake of brevity, however, I’ll only say that each person has something beautiful to offer this world. And despite my own biases as a house resident, I am not defending every action that the collective has committed; we are all young people attempting to figure out how to make the most morally correct decisions within extremely complex sets of circumstances. At the end of the day, though, I will only ask for the community to engage with us rather than assume the worst things of us.