The Dickinsonian

Fall to Bring New Special Interest Houses


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Two new special interest houses will be available to students in the 2018 – 2019 academic year, the X House for black culture and the Interfaith Special Interest House.

According to Assistant Director of Residence Life Sage Ober, the two new houses, X House for black culture and the Interfaith Special Interest House, will bring the total number of special interest houses on campus to twenty-two. Ober explained that “The new houses that were approved had to fill out an application that outlined their mission and vision, goals, possible interest in the house, as well as some other criteria.”

Director of Residence Life and Housing Amanda George explained that special interest houses are “student-initiated and student-run.” She furthered that “any student or student group can submit an application” to create a special interest house. George explained that the process for creating a new special interest house takes around three months and requires a “letter of support from a faculty or staff advisor, a list of students interested in living in the house, and an application.” George said that the number of applications for new special interest houses “has stayed fairly consistent from year to year.”

“I come from Queens, [NY], so all my life I have been surrounded by people from other faith backgrounds,” said Aiden Birth ’21 who spearheaded the Interfaith House. “The Interfaith Special Interest House is a place where people of various backgrounds can come together and learn about each other’s religions and learn more about their own beliefs.”

Birth explained that there used to be an interfaith floor in Morgan Hall, and that the future house will be a revival of that community. “The idea is that anybody who lives in the Interfaith House would be open to learn about other people’s beliefs and examine their own beliefs,” said Birth.

George explained that the idea behind X House is “to create a physical space for black students to gather and heal while providing a space for all to celebrate black culture and heritage.”

According to a Facebook post by Janaiya Banks ’19, the history behind X House dates to 1972, when “the Congress of African Students petitioned for and received Strayer House… This house served as a place of ‘relaxation, recreation, learning’ and a space where Black students [could] “keep … in tune with [their] culture.” The post further explained that “students of color on this campus … found it necessary to establish a space to promote awareness and acceptance of Black Culture and Heritage.”

The post also explained that the house will serve “to foster a space in which we grieve, mourn, and discuss acts, such as the one that took place this past Halloween, as well as the many other acts, large and small, that take place at Dickinson on a daily basis, as a community” and serve as “a center for the celebration of black culture.”

George stated that in the 2018 – 2019 academic year, X House will be located at 507 West Louther Street while Birth explained that the Interfaith House will be located in Davidson Wilson 140.

Student reactions to both houses were positive. Hank Jirousek ’21 said, “I think that it’s a good idea. If people, enough people, have interest in creating a new house that they feel strongly about, I think they should go for it. The houses are a great way to immerse yourself in something that has a lot of meaning to you.”

Cell Njei ’19 said of both houses, “I think it’s a great idea. We need a united front on campus, physically, and not just verbally. Especially with everything that has been going on campus and in the States.”

Speaking on the Interfaith House, Morgan Bates ’18 said, “This is certainly an opportunity I would have taken advantage of if it had been offered when I was an underclassman. I’m incredibly impressed by Aidan Birth’s initiative to start this house, and I’m excited about the potential this space has for connecting individuals across campus on the basis of spirituality.”

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Fall to Bring New Special Interest Houses