On Sunday, the mayhem of the housing process at the University begins. That’s right: program house hopping is upon us once again, this time from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Beckham Hall.
Program housing is a large part of the diverse student life that we associate with the University. Oft-lauded in admissions tours, the program housing option gives students a chance to live in a house with like-minded individuals, escape the monotonous architecture of a dorm, and replace RAs with House Managers who hold unique jobs on campus.
Leo Grossman ’16, House Manager of Buddhist House, applied for his position after living in Buddhist House during his sophomore fall semester. Although Grossman isn’t Buddhist, he likes meditating and doing yoga and enjoys the peaceful space of the house.
House Managers must organize a minimum of two programs a month.
“The House Manager is a Residential Life representative, so [we’re responsible for] disciplinary values and programming in the house [and] more logistical control of things like move-in and move-out times,” Grossman said. “Programming is less of the on-paper stuff. It’s more social and outside of Residential Life. The programs at Buddhist House, as with all program houses, often incorporate ‘learning opportunities.’”
Learning opportunities, Grossman explained, center on effective communication, citizenship, and community building.
“For effective communication, for example, we have house dinners every week,” Grossman said. “We try to create a dialogue, make sure everyone is comfortable. Sometimes we bring readings to the table.”
House Managers also work, to varying degrees, with the greater Wesleyan community. Art House often programs with Music House, as the two groups occupy the same house on Washington Street. The two houses put on concerts and events throughout the semester.
This semester, Art House, with House Manager Rachel Day ’16, will organize almost weekly concerts and events. This Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Art House (230 Washington St.) will host its first-ever craft fair, an event that will bring artists of the Wesleyan community together to trade, barter, and sell their work. A percentage of the profits will go to a local arts nonprofit.
Day hopes this will become a standard event that occurs every semester. She believes it can further the relationship between Middletown residents and University students.
Although less known for concerts and events than Earth House, Art House, and Buddhist House, Russian House plans to host several events this semester.
“On April 1, we are having a festival for Nikolai Gogol’s birthday,” wrote House Manager of Russian House Gillian Rochkind ’17 in an email to the Argus. “I think we will probably read excerpts from his work in English and Russian, and we might act out a scene from his story ‘The Nose.’”
Rochkind also plans to host several movie screenings, including “The Irony of Fate,” a movie traditionally watched on New Year’s Eve in Russia.
German Haus is also planning to host movie screenings this semester. In addition, it has several food-themed events on the calendar, no doubt due to House Manager Toys Koomplee ’17’s love of baking. Koomplee has planned a Valentine’s Day cookie decorating party on Sunday, a scavenger hunt, and a Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cookies, for non-German speakers) event planned for Friday the 13th.
“At Kaffee und Kuchen, we will be inviting some German exchange students, or some students who have German background, to come and talk about their experiences related to German Culture, to raise the awareness of the diversity as well,” Koomplee wrote in a message to the Argus.
Women of Color House and Community Service House have planned events for students looking to engage with the community.
“We’re hosting a Sunday Support Circle in collaboration with Ujamaa for Black History Month on Sunday, February 22,” Women of Color House Manager Aliya Lyons ’17 wrote in a message to The Argus. “We’ll probably organize a sledding and hot cocoa outing for the next big snow we have, a program house kickball tournament outside when it’s nicer, and ‘Scandal’ (or another popular show) viewing parties.”
Alex Drexler ’16, House Manager of Community Service House, has also been busy planning events.
“We just finished coordinating with the Office of Community Service to put on a fair to connect Wes students with great service organizations on campus,” he wrote in a message to The Argus. “As far as programming, we’re going to be working with Traverse Square to coordinate a snow day for the kids…[and] there’s going to be a film screening in the next few weeks for Hunger and Homelessness.”
Grossman wants to ensure that each program house continues to enrich the Wesleyan community, even those that are not as well known as Buddhist House.
“I encourage people to apply to other program houses, too, and make them their own communities,” he said. “Apply to all the program houses! It’s a good step in the Wesleyan hierarchy of living independence.”
“Living in dorm housing as a sophomore, I really felt I missed out on a community connection in my living environment,” he wrote. “Within CommServ house, we have weekly house dinners and are constantly discussing different activities we’re working on. It creates a level of community that doesn’t exist in other places.”