Staff Editorial

Formal group and theme housing selection was a particularly involved process this year, with many new groups applying for houses and other established ones renewing contracts. In the end, only one theme house was allotted, even though the space was available for two groups to receive a house.
While the parameters for formal group housing are very clearly laid out on the Lawrence Web site, those regarding theme houses are unclear and must be revised if the requirements for receiving a theme house are indeed as strict as they seemed to be this year.
For prospective students considering Lawrence, the description of theme houses reads, “Some houses are designated as ‘theme houses,’ available through a campus lottery to groups working toward common interests and goals.” This puts the requirements to get a house in very vague terms, making the process seem much easier than it actually is.
The primary reason why groups did not receive houses this year is because they did not outline clearly enough how they were going to help the Lawrence community by having a house.
This requirement is a noble one, mandatory for formal groups, but it seems that those desiring theme houses should be able to acquire them based mainly on a common interest, as suggested in the above definition; for example, a language immersion house may not directly benefit other members of the Lawrence community who do not speak the language, but it would certainly enrich the lives of those who wished to live there.
Furthermore, in light of recent vandalism, students have been encouraged to foster a sense of community in their living spaces. What better way to do this than to build community around a common interest? In general, students living in small houses are much more attached to their living spaces than those in residence halls.
Finally, students going off campus are forced to pick last in the housing lottery, and theme houses can alleviate some of these problems since they are not part of the general lottery. Students who share interests with members of a theme house can have a desirable living situation despite going abroad if they acquire space in the house.
This is not to say that students should be allowed to get a theme house if their only goal is to live with their close friends and party. Perhaps this is why restrictions were tightened this year, and that is understandable. However, before next year’s selection rolls around, a clear set of expectations for theme houses must be outlined, as it is for formal group housing, in order to make the process fairer and more beneficial to all involved and to continue to encourage the presence of theme houses on campus.