ABLE, Casa Latina and Jazz House are some of the permanent houses on the Knox College campus, approved over the years by the Student Senate and Campus Life office. Now, as the Queer & Ally (Q&A) House strives to become permanent as well, questions have been raised about the permanent housing system as a whole.
“My concern is that if this continues–there’s a good idea, and we give them a house–there will be no theme housing,” Senate Communications Officer and senior Chris Bugajski said during the Feb. 11 Senate meeting. Other senators also expressed a dislike for the lack of oversight of existing permanent houses.
Asian Cultural House most recently went through the approval process, getting the okay from Senate in the fall of 2009. Members of the Q&A House see it as the next logical step to improve the campus social environment beyond their years at Knox.
“At the moment, the Q&A House is the only 24-hour safe space on campus,” junior Peter Thomas said. “The purpose of a 24-hour safe space is exactly what it sounds like: it’s intended to serve as a location where people can go to feel emotionally or physically safe.”
Beyond providing a safe space for any student in distress, members of the Q&A House also stress the social impact of the house, which they see as on par with other cultural centers.
“The Q&A House also offers an explicitly queer-friendly social space to Knox,” junior Michael Martinez said. “Our events are geared towards inclusivity and open-mindedness. We also function as a LGBTQ cultural center here at Knox, and we offer resources for people in the community as well as educational resources for people who simply want to know more.”
According to Associate Dean of Students Craig Southern, in the past, houses seeking permanent status went before the Residential Quality of Life Senate committee as a first step.
“If it gets the okay, then it goes before the general Senate, and from there on to the Student Life committee,” Southern said.
According to Dean Southern, there has never been an issue with a permanent house in the past significant enough to warrant review.
“If there were a problem with a permanent house, I would bring it up to Senate and ask them what they want to do,” Southern said.
Some students don’t feel that permanent housing should exist at all, however.
“It’s unnecessary. If there is a need, the house will be renewed,” junior Angie Ostaszewski said. “There are already so many permanent houses. If this continues, the competition for theme housing will be ridiculous.”
Other students have concerns that some permanent houses could cease to function properly to benefit the campus, due to lack of interest or membership. Members of the Q&A House are prepared to overcome that issue.
“We plan on trying to get to a system where every year two new sophomores move into the house, so that two seniors, two juniors and two sophomores live in the house each year,” junior Matthew Becker said. “This way by the time any member of the house is a senior, it will be their third year living here and will know all they need to know to make the house a success.”