The Undergraduate Residential Life Committee (URLC) is in the process of a rare call for new program house proposals, in which existing program houses also have the option to move into vacant houses.
“There may be as many as five spaces within houses that have been used for program houses [and are now available],” Director of Residential Life Fran Koerting wrote in an email to The Argus. “The first step is to see if any current houses want to move to any of these locations, and then we will know which are available for new program houses.”
Over the past decade, the University has seen only two instances of ResLife calling for proposals. Applicants submitted bids in 2008 and by January of the following year, Music House and Farm House were approved. Three years later, pitches were called for once again, and this led to the formation of Art House.
The addresses in consideration are 202 Washington Street, which is now Recess House; 73 Pearl Street, which was last Turath House; 34 Lawn Avenue, previously Chinese House; and 230 Washington Street, which is currently Art House. Once Art/Music House, 230 Washington Street changed names after Music House broke off, filling the vacancy left by the Eclectic Society at 200 High Street. Chinese House and Turath House were inactive this year due to a decrease in interest, and after struggling to fill its space this year, Recess House is now in the process of creating a new proposal.
“People should submit proposals if they have ideas or see a gap that needs to be filled, and if they understand how program houses can serve not only those who live there, but the broader community as a whole,” Lizzie Shackney ’17, Chair of the Student Life Committee, wrote in an email to The Argus.
The URLC has emphasized that the process should not be based on one location, as specific spaces cannot be requested.
The URLC will review proposals and then ask certain groups to present their ideas to the committee. Afterwards, there will be deliberation among committee members, resulting in the selection. The non-student members of the committee are Koerting, Associate Director of Facilities Management at Physical Plant Jeffrey Sweet and Area Coordinator of Senior and Program Houses Alexia Thompson. Students include Shackney, Owen Christoph ’18, (house manager of Open House), Henry Prine ’18 (WSA), Brandon Sides ’18, Will Maldonado ’19 (WSA), Sharit Cardenas Lopez ’19, (house manager of Sign Language House), and Chris Jackson ’20 (WSA).
“The students who are involved in the selection process have and will continue to interact with students in various groups on campus to better understand what students are looking for in program housing,” Shackney wrote. “It is important for students to be a part of the selection process because it is important to create spaces that will be of interest to and will create community for students next year as well as those in the years to come.”
Koerting also stated that the University will not be able to expand its Greek residential housing at the time. The Greek organizations that are currently active on campus and do not own a living space are fraternities Chi Psi and Alpha Psi Alpha (formerly known as Alpha Epilson Pi), and sorority Rho Epsilon Pi.
“The decision was made several years ago to not increase the residential Greek organizations at the University,” Koerting wrote.
This likely means that Eclectic will be evicted from their space for the foreseeable future, if not permanently, rather than move back in the fall. The future of 200 High Street is currently uncertain for the upcoming academic year.
It is estimated that the bid winners will be notified at the beginning of the spring semester, and they will be able to move into their new residences during the 2017-18 academic year.
Applications for new program house proposals are due Nov. 17, 2016. Individuals interested in applying can fill out and send a nine-question application to Koerting at firstname.lastname@example.org. They must also send a list of 30 names and signatures of students who would want to live in the house.For assistance or more information, one of the three Area Coordinators who work with program housing can be contacted: Brian Nangle at email@example.com, Alexia Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Krystal Gayle O’Neill at email@example.com.
“These houses will not necessarily create more social spaces on campus; most of these houses already existed as program houses,” Shackney wrote. “But, hopefully we ensure that the people who are a part of these spaces are there because they care about the house’s mission, and that they’ll create community and social space through that commitment.”