Guest Editorial: Theme Housing

Paul Karner

I’m writing about some unfortunate news that came my way this week. As a former member of the SMEE house, I was terribly disappointed to find out that the housing committee turned down the request to renew our status as a theme house. I have tried to uncover a clear reason why this decision was made, but I’ve found that the members of SMEE are just as confused and disheartened as I am.
Having had a hand in the application process last year, I was present when we made our presentation to the housing committee and read our written proposal that earned us our house this year. Looking back on this year, I have seen nothing but a true representation of what we had set out to do.
A major part of the SMEE house proposal was to work with local elementary schools in the area and expose young children to fresh ways of looking at music and improvisation. With little experience and little faculty guidance, members of SMEE have successfully worked with eight different elementary school classrooms and even received requests to return for future sessions.
This kind of positive relationship with the community spurred from a selfless desire to offer something valuable to these young kids is a rare and commendable thing on our campus. Though the work done by SMEE residents is not visible to most Lawrentians, Lawrence’s relationship with the Appleton community is often taken for granted.
Efforts like those exhibited by members of SMEE are invaluable to these schoolchildren as well as Lawrence, as they are – appearances aside – a permanent part of the greater Appleton community.
In addition to hosting a number of safe and well-attended parties with quality performances by student groups and out of town musicians, our house hosted two major new music concerts and is currently planning a collaboration concert/exhibit with the Wriston Art Collective. Including a slew of smaller collaborative events, SMEE has made it a goal to provide musical outlets for the campus community.
After receiving word that the housing committee had rejected the proposal, a number of residents appealed the decision to LUCC. After waiting an hour and a half to have the appeal considered, the issue wasn’t even discussed. This is unfortunate, as it is LUCC who is supposed to have the final word on all decisions made by the housing committee.
I find it incredibly disheartening that a group of students managing to have such a successful group fails to receive even a nod from the housing committee. The committee members criticized the house for failing to take special provisions to appeal to the athletic community – athletes apparently don’t like music.
I’m pleased to hear that a Swing House constitution was recently approved by LUCC. Regardless of my curiosity and interest regarding this fabled document, I am not questioning the benefits of alternative weekend entertainment that the swing house provides. I am, however, questioning the ability of these LUCC committees to accurately judge the value of so-called services to the Lawrence community.