Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Res Life renews interest houses for coming year

<nnouncement of the six interest houses for 2011-2012 evidenced a change in the current make-up of interest houses. The houses will be CANOE, Farm/Parr (“Sustainable Interest” House), Culinary, Science-Fiction/Fantasy, F.I.S.H. and, new this year, Fitness House. Not renewed as an interest house was the Wellstone House of Organization and Activism, also known as WHOA House.

The decision was the result of deliberations made by Residential Life staff Hall Director Isaiah Thomas and Director of Residential Life Steve Wisner, with input from selected students of the Housing Selection Advisory Committee (HSAC) prior to the final decision. HSAC is a committee made up of 11 students- six Resident Advisors and five students-at-large.

According to Thomas, who oversees and coordinates HSAC, the housing selection this year was “a very competitive process.” A total of eleven interest houses applied for six total spots. In addition to renewal applications from Culinary House, CANOE, Farm/Parr, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, F.I.S.H. and WHOA, four new houses applied for the 2011-2012 year. These houses were the Hill of Three Oaks Brewery House, Arts & Crafts House, Jazz House and Fitness House.
“A lot of difficult decisions were made,” said Thomas. He said that ultimately, Fitness House was awarded the interest house “based on the strength of their application.”

The goals of Fitness House, according to next year’s house manager Milana Socha ’14, are to provide a healthy living environment, create a supportive community that encourages an active lifestyle, provide opportunities for the campus at large to participate in fun healthy activities and provide information and resources for individuals interested in fitness.

Activities of the Fitness House will include a “Fitness Community Board”—a physical board as well as the possibility of an electronic version with postings of fitness activities. Additionally, Socha explained that the house will host events related to health and wellness for campus, as well as “provide a living environment that supports a fit lifestyle by removing negative pressures.”

According to one member of HSAC, asking the question “why are we giving up WHOA house for fitness house?” is “completely misrepresentat[ing] the interest house application process.” She continued: “each house application is considered independently of one another… the application that WHOA house put forth to the committee was much weaker overall than Fitness House.”

All houses are required to submit a lengthy application explaining the benefits that the house will supply to the entire Carleton community, specifically explaining why they need a house to support their mission. Thomas said that he and HSAC look for differences between groups that need a house fulfill their purpose and groups that do not.

This year, WHOA house was determined to be the latter.

The lack of renewal for WHOA House has been met with disappointment and sadness from current and future WHOA residents.  “I find this decision truly devastating,” said current WHOA House Manager Lizbee Collins-Wildman. She added, “Other house members and people who come to our events are all very upset.”

Stated Collins-Wildman in her April 22 Viewpoint opinion piece: “The vibrant community that WHOA creates is a valuable asset to residential life at Carleton.  We have received more than double the number of applicants that our ten person house can accommodate, yet the house is being terminated.”

Jacque Oman, a current resident of WHOA House who has lived there since her sophomore year, said that what bothered her most about the decision is the idea that the mission of WHOA House could be fulfilled in a non-residential community. “Having casual conversations with the people in this house has made me more aware of the things around me,” she said. “When you experience people being passionate about certain issues 24 hours a day, you just being to care about those things more.”

WHOA application was not chosen for several reasons, according to Thomas and members of HSAC.  Last year, for the 2009-2010 school year, WHOA received a house but was told they would need to make substantial changes to the structure of the house and events for the campus. “This year, we saw no evidence of those changes being made, and overall we did not see a compelling reason for WHOA to keep their house,” said the HSAC member.

“By comparison, Fitness House presented a very thoughtful and thorough application and gave a very compelling rationale for having a house,” said the member of HSAC.

The HSAC member added that something “a lot of current students don’t know, or have forgotten, [that] this is not the first time WHOA has been denied an interest house, nor is it even close to the first time that WHOA house has received some form of reprimand from the interest house application process. Four years ago (2007-2008), WHOA House did not exist, as HSAC and ResLife elected to deny them a house the previous spring, as has happened this year. In 2008-2009, the house was doing relatively very well and made it through the application process without a problem.”

As during the 2007-2008 year, the WHOA house group does plan to meet even without having a house. Leaf Elhai, who would have been the House Manager for WHOA 2011-2012, said that next year the house will continue to exist in some form, probably through weekly “house” meetings, discussions, and events planned by the group, to keep the spirit of WHOA alive.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *