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Special interest housing: Why students should consider it

Recently, special interest houses have had to submit their housing lists for the fall 2018 semester. For houses, this is a highly stressful time for many, as they need to find members who both care deeply about their club, but who also are willing to fully immerse themselves in it. I feel the need to premise this article by saying I have never lived in a special interest house, but I still have strong feelings about this as almost all my friends have/ are living in special interest housing.

Many groups have taken to the Beloit College Student Group to beg for more submissions to live in their house. For some, this has worked quite effectively, but for others the struggle to fill a house and provide an alternates list continues. I’ve watched friends from three separate houses struggle as they believe they have the perfect list completed, but then someone decides they want to live somewhere else and they have to completely restructure the list.

These houses can and do provide so much to the student body. I personally have not and never will live in a house due to circumstances I don’t really feel like putting out to the entirety of the student body, but I have found a home in so many of these houses. When I say home, I refer less to a physical space, but a familial atmosphere. The people in special interest houses are bonded together, and the atmosphere in many cases is one of a family. They all take care of each other and are bonded by some kind of organization or club.

The physical spaces of a house have great meaning too. As a member of a greek organization on campus, I understand how much a house means to greek life. Some of these organizations have inhabited those houses for decades, and have many traditions and memories rooted in that physical space. The same goes for clubs who inhabit these spaces. Some have been there for so long that there isn’t a time when students can remember any other group living there.

This does not negate those groups who just acquired a house either. A physical space where your club or group can bond together is always important, and providing a space for clubs and organizations signals to students that these groups are important and host events and activities which the student body values highly.

I’ve found that Beloit is very unique compared to other colleges. When talking with my friends from home, the prevalence of clubs and organizations is much smaller and most students are only part of one group. At Beloit, students are able to engage with as many or as few groups as possible, and the stress on living in the house of the club you most identify with is strong. At other schools, special interest houses are nonexistent or not a prevalent option, but many students at Beloit are able to engage with campus in a completely different way.

There could be many reasons why students don’t want to live in certain special interest houses. Maybe the club just received the house and members aren’t sure of the atmosphere, maybe the club was struggling and is now being revitalized or maybe students are sending a signal to the club that their presence on campus might not be as strong as it used to. In the latter case, this may mean the club has to regroup and make a greater effort to engage the student body in their events and activities.

While I do highly encourage people to live in special interest housing, I want to emphasize that the reasons for living in a special interest house should be because you love the club and the people who live there. I believe that when someone lives in a house just to live in a house it takes away from the atmosphere. If you don’t particularly know or like the people who live there, and don’t really know or care about the club it negatively impacts the club. By living in the house, you represent the club itself.

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