Columns / Discourse / April 29, 2009

Theme and no variation

To each term its own source of drama. The ALLEGEDLY racist TKS sports column, ALLEGED sex discrimination in SMC bathrooms, the appearance of John Ashcroft, the myriad debates sparked by an ALLEGED overabundance of Greek life…the list goes on. And on. Now I’m not saying these are unfounded sources of drama, and I exaggerate the “supposed” nature of these things merely to cover my back journalistically—but it’s really true, isn’t it? Every term has its individual hot-button issue, and we students thrive on our very own adolescent brand of dissent. We furrow our brows and sign petitions. We put sharpies to cardboard and we yell. We stand as tall as we can and show that we have quite a collective spine. These are all admirable and sometimes revolutionary tactics, but reading all the articles on the issue got me feeling really down about a house whose mission I admire.

Poor, poor Tree House. As debates raged last week with regards to our Debacle du Jour—Theme Grousing, as I like to call it—many columns featured in TKS took quite the stab at the approved house for the 2009-2010 school year, whose goal is to sponsor an innocent strain of games and activities that we’ll likely remember playing as children. Tree House has been attacked most heavily in all theme-grousing articles, more so than Humor House, Asian Cultural House, or the others that didn’t get approved (such as Basketball and F.I.R.E. House). In her letter, “Traumatized,” Ashley Atkinson writes, “clearly Knox wants to play Scrabble all day instead of confronting sexism…,” while Ellie Poley in her letter claimed that “allowing a bunch of friends to live together and do fun things is not the best use of [theme housing].”

The reason that such Tree House scrutiny was rampant in last week’s debates is probably because it is easy. A house centered around light-hearted, good clean fun? ‘Those silly kids with their Hungry, Hungry Hippos! They’re frolicking about, ignoring the hard-hitting issues!’

Folks, I write a column every week about ball pits, Jeopardy, dating, birthdays, and fashion. I have not been replaced by any more politically charged columns to date, presumably because we need a little variety in what we read and experience. Not everything is or needs to be part of an agenda or a revolution, as talented as we are at setting them in motion. Many causes do require that, and we’d do best to keep an eye on those, too. But some things are far simpler. Some things can be, I daresay, a barrel of monkeys. Why not parcel out space to such a pure little mission? Lord knows you’re not going to find Elefun or Don’t Wake Daddy anywhere else on this campus, which I’ve said time and time again is starved of non-food-centered activities. Tree House, in itself, is therefore a cause. I won’t make it sound any nobler than it is, but we can’t deny it contributes something significant (and adorable) to Knox.

As things stand, the Tree House assault was dust in the wind; the Q & A House is now approved and will be a fixture on Knox’s campus next year, just as the childhood nostalgia house will be. So, really, everyone wins. Especially me. I get to view the tumult from afar, shake my head, and act like an octogenarian with my “kids these days” attitude, relieved that all I have to do is come up with a mildly entertaining remark or two to toss into the turmoil. Me, my principal cause is saving the great apes (true story). Since I don’t think Knox has a huge poaching problem, I’ll bring it up elsewhere, and make a mental note to walk by Tree House next year, where hopefully I’ll be invited in for a round of Ants in the Pants.

Marnie Shure

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