Explicit definitions of permanent theme houses and cultural centers will be established by the end of the year, according to Associate Dean of Students Craig Southern.
These new definitions will inform future members of Student Senate’s Campus Life Committee if a student group seeks to attain more long standing accommodations under the guise of either cultural center, such as ABLE, or permanent theme house, such as Eco House.
The new definitions will also incorporate student opinions on what purpose cultural centers should serve.
“We want to start this process of, what do students feel it means to be a cultural center? Because we can use our definition all we want but if that’s not what the students are seeing it gets people confused,” Southern said.
Permanent housing will also need a stringent restructuring.
“The definition right now of a permanent house is kind of just that they don’t have to reapply every year,” Southern said.
“As we distribute different places on campus … we need to have a good definition of what those things are.”
Assistant Director of Campus Life for Housing Operations Koreen Kerfoot has several ideas for ensuring that the permanent theme housing process is not grouped in with the yearly housing application process.
“In some ways it needs to be separate from the theme housing process because there’s a different approval, though it’s still the same bodies [involved],” Kerfoot said.
“In some ways it would be easier to fully separate that from the annual theme housing process.”
Currently, there are only loose definitions that distinguish permanent theme houses from cultural centers.
“A cultural center does a lot of outreach education, based on their description. What it is designed to do is to help educate the community versus being a space centered around a theme,” Kerfoot said.
Southern would like to see more detailed definitions established.
“Permanent housing and the cultural center definitions can certainly be mixed up right now so we need to make them more explicit,” he said.
Campus Life Committee Chair sophomore Victor Schultz is currently working with Lecturer in Anthropology-Sociology Tianna Cervantes to formulate a strategy to more effectively distinguish cultural centers.
“Tianna Cervantes and I are beginning a conversation about what the student body thinks the role of cultural centers should be and how we can effectively get them to that point,” Schultz said. “This will entail focus groups, a survey and other ways of gauging student opinions during spring term.”
Currently, student groups go through the Campus Life Office when they desire to start the long-term housing application process. There is little difference between the approval processes of the two housing statuses currently, as Student Senate ultimately oversees them both.