Treehouse Changes Shower Policy, Citing Inclusivity Concerns

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Treehouse Changes Shower Policy, Citing Inclusivity Concerns

Several Treehouse residents celebrate the new policy change by hopping in the shower.

Several Treehouse residents celebrate the new policy change by hopping in the shower.

Michaela Shaw '16

Several Treehouse residents celebrate the new policy change by hopping in the shower.

Michaela Shaw '16

Michaela Shaw '16

Several Treehouse residents celebrate the new policy change by hopping in the shower.

Elana Krapin ’19, Staff Writer

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In an effort to be more inclusive of women and minorities, the Center for Sustainable Living, or “The Treehouse,” recently repealed its three-minute shower policy. In its place is a new policy requiring residents to “set challenging personal goals to limit shower time and temperature.”

Caitlin Doak ’16, resident of the Treehouse, spearheaded the implementation of the new shower policy after it was brought to her attention that the three-minute policy was allegedly excluding residents with different hair and body types who could not shower in only three minutes.  In particular, it is difficult for African-American women to wash their hair in a three-minute shower, which, Doak learned, dissuaded one individual from applying to live in the house.

“Discrimination within the environmental community is bad, and we should work to combat it… [However], race was not the only reason why we changed the policy,” said Doak. “The issue of race is what sparked the initiative to change the shower policy. However, there are many more reasons why I support the change, namely that it focuses on personal goals and resists placing quantifiable limits on individual personal habits.”

All Treehouse residents approved the new policy unanimously, though some residents expressed concern that the lack of restriction would encourage future unsustainable behavior, including people taking 20-minute showers.

“You have to want to live in the Treehouse,” Doak responded. “You should care about the environment if you live there… If residents care, then they should want to limit their water usage anyways.”

Doak explained that the new policy aims to help individuals set personal goals and focus on evaluating what one can do.

“The sustainability movement should be more about people thinking about their impact on the environment and value the environment, in addition to valuing other people,” Doak said.

Sustainable living “should be accessible for everyone,” Doak said. “If people value the environment, they’ll think about these values when they’re voting and doing other impactful things.”

According to Doak, the change in the shower policy is not a gesture of “‘the Treehouse isn’t racist.’
It means that the house is thinking about what it means to have a shower policy and what the Treehouse values as a sustainable community.”

“It’s not a competition of how sustainable one person is compared to others: we all share the earth so we shouldn’t put numbers on it,” Doak concluded.

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