The Office of Residential Life and Learning (ORLL) invited students to apply to create their own themed house in Community Housing (CoHo) centered around a common interest or passion for fall 2020, but received only one application, according to Su McGlone, the director of fraternity and sorority affairs.
McGlone, the point of contact for the applications, explained that the only application ORLL received was for Green House, which would center around sustainability and sustainable living.
ORLL’s existing theme houses are affiliated with specific academic departments, identities or languages, such as the Russian/Slavic Culture House which is sponsored by the Russian Language and Cultural Studies program.
This program, however, invited students to form their own special interest housing, creating their own living and learning community centered around a specific topic or theme of their own choice.
McGlone explained that she worked with ORLL Director Joshua Hartman to craft the idea of special interest housing after he saw it at other institutions. When the idea was introduced, McGlone said the overall response from students was positive and she wants it to remain an option for residential living.
“[The hopes are] to provide more dynamic opportunities for students to engage with one another around topics that are enhancing their experience here at Tufts and to do that in an intentional way, to be able to find the potential ways of connecting with one another, finding their sense of belonging on campus, being something they get to create,” McGlone said. “There’s something sort of powerful around that, and hopefully it’ll be something we keep doing year after year.”
Selected applicant Caeden Fial plans to live in the only create-your-own special interest house next year, called Green House. He explained that the house’s mission is to practice and encourage other people on how to live more sustainably, as well as to serve as a point of contact for various on-campus groups.
Fial, a sophomore, currently lives in “the Hive,” which he explained as a Latin Way suite that is focused on sustainable living. He said the members of the suite each have different projects to work on that relate to sustainability, whereas in the Green House, all the members will be working on one project together.
“A bunch of us [in the suite] wanted to keep doing what we were doing,” Fial said. “I find it really interesting figuring out different ways to live more sustainably and we thought it would be good to continue with it.”
According to Fial, the members of the Green House next year want to start a garden with the outdoor space they have and host events or organize meetings in their common space. He believes it will be easier to continue sustainability efforts in a house, rather than a suite.
Environmental studies major Marilene Rivas-Chavez, another current resident of the Hive, expects to be the house manager as required by ORLL’s application. They explained that they chose to take on the role of house manager because they want to make the house open and available to people of all identities to take part in environmental movements.
“I want to make other people feel like they can get involved too, because I’ve started going to the climate marches and I’ve been seeing a lot of the same people,” Rivas-Chavez, a sophomore, said. “But a lot of people from my circles, especially the Latinx community, are kind of struggling to get involved and feel like they have a space in it so I just want to have something big so people can know that we have a space too.”
Fial explained that there are currently eight people who have expressed interest in living in the Green House next year. Since there are 12 spots available in the house, they are still looking for applicants interested in living sustainably and interested in working with different environmental groups on campus.
“I think people should apply for themed housing if you find something that really interests you,” Fial said. “Then you can connect with other people who are also interested by it and if you live together it’s a lot easier to cooperate and figure out other things you might have in common.”