Campus / News / March 6, 2019

Theme houses see high turnover

Freshmen Kathryn Allee and Carly Rieger discuss their new theme house for next year, Botanical House. The members of the theme house will hold events offering lessons on how to take care of houseplants in a form room. (Rob Nguyen/TKS)

Theme houses for next year have been selected, with only Smash House returning from this year. Smash House and four other houses are making plans for next year as the Campus Life committee of Student Senate looks for ways to make theme houses more prominent.

The theme houses for next year are Smash House, in its current location at 265 S. Academy St., Culinary House at 270 Tompkins, Friends of Green Oaks House in Townhouse B, Table Top House in Townhouse C and Botanical House in Peterson House.

Next year, theme houses will only be expected to host two events a term, according to freshman and Senate campus life chair Carly Rieger. In the past they have been expected to host three a term.

“We reduced it to two so that they wouldn’t have to spread the money that they’re given so thin,” Reiger said.

Houses next year are approaching the requirement with different ideas. Freshman Kathryn Allee is one of the organizers of Botanical House, which will focus on teaching students to care for houseplants in their dorm.

“We kind of identified that a lot of people are hesitant to have houseplants in their dorms because they’re concerned about care,” Allee said.

Junior Andie Carlson-Dakes discusses how her experience at Green Oaks will influence the new Friends of Green Oaks House. (Rob Nguyen/TKS)

Other houses have plans around more abstract themes. Junior Andie Carlson-Dakes from Friends of Green Oaks House said they wanted to focus on making the house an “intentional community” which she learned about during Green Oaks Term. An intentional community focuses on communication and conflict resolution to  make sure everyone enjoyed living together as much as possible.

“Our group really took [building an intentional community] to be the main part of Green Oaks Term,” Carlson-Dakes said. “So we’re going to use what we learned during Green Oaks Term and our experience in an intentional community and try to share that with the campus.”

The group expects to find this easier in the isolation of Green Oaks than it will be on campus, but Carlson-Dakes hopes that by exposing more students to the idea of an intentional community, they can help students feel less stressed.

“They’re really working at conflict resolution and splitting up work load evenly,” Carlson-Dakes said. “Just making sure everyone in the community is as comfortable as they can be.”

The Senate campus life committee oversees the theme house application process, with help from the Campus Life Office. This posed a potential problem for Rieger and Botanical House, as she was part of the group applying.

“I knew that that was something I had to be conscious of because I didn’t want that to bias the process at all,” Reiger said. “So when Botanical House came in, I didn’t represent Botanical House when it came in for interviews … and when we were decided whether or not to approve Botanical House in particular I let my committee take the reins on that and I just stepped back.”

Besides the number of events the houses have to host, the buildings available to theme houses also changed. Rieger explained that they wanted to prioritize larger buildings. They also will no longer be using Post suites. Junior Cayne Randle was campus life chair when the changes were made but Rieger was still told about the changes.

Theme houses can now be located in the townhouses but not Post due to the difficulty of holding events in the larger dorm building. (Rob Nguyen/TKS)

“I’m pretty sure that Post got removed from where the themed houses could be because it wasn’t conducive to the events because you have to have a key to open it up,” Reiger said.

Smash House has been a more active theme house on campus this year. Junior Arturo Jimenez said they tend to hold about two events a term and that despite the decrease in required events, they still plan to have about the same number next year.

“We want to make sure we have a consistent flow of events,” he said.

One new kind of event they hope to explore is grilling. Jimenez feels that having events outside will be a good change of pace.

“We kind of have a problem with space, so one thing is we’re trying to find a way to see how we can include our porch area and the outside area a bit more,” Jimenez said. “One idea we’re thinking is having a burger thing where we use the grills and see how we can incorporate that into our events.”

Smash House was the only current house to reapply but a Culinary House will be returning to campus. The organizers did not know that there had been past Culinary Houses when applying, according to freshman Asher Spriggs.

“I talked to one of the senators and she’s like, ‘yeah, they had some troubles in the past’ but based on what she said, it really helped to say what to look out for and what to keep in mind,” Spriggs said.

This Culinary House will focus on baking and hopes to work with different clubs, including an event like I-Fair but on a smaller scale.

“We were also thinking about working with different clubs,” Spriggs said. “É just to kind of teach people the history of food and being able to understand and appreciate where that food came from and how it affects lives and what the traditions of those [foods] are.”

Connor Wood, Editor-in-Chief
Connor Wood is a senior with a double major in English Literature and Environmental Studies. He started as a volunteer writer and then staff writer his freshman year and was a news editor his sophomore and junior years. He has also worked as a communications intern for the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and as an intern with Unified News Group, both in the Madison, WI, suburbs.

Tags:  Botanical House campus campus life Campus Life Office Smash House theme houses

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