Four new theme houses have been approved by Res Ed for the 2011-12 year. This year’s theme houses continue to offer a range of diverse living options for students, including academic, service, activism, philanthropy and lifestyle themes.
“Living in a theme house offers students the opportunity to experience different cultures, explore areas of academic and social interests, as well as build strong relationships with other students, faculty and staff,” states Kristen Tobey, assistant director of residential education and area coordinator for small houses. “Residents in theme houses are able to coordinate programs and events that act as a vehicle to share their theme interest with fellow students and community members.”
The new houses include the Outdoor Education and Awareness House at 730 South Main Street for students who, through loving the great outdoors spread awareness of the benefits of being active. Their events will be focused on activity in the outdoors that will be open to the entire HWS campus; Bridging the Gap House at 593 South Main Street, will work on events in collaboration with the City of Geneva to continue to build upon the relationship between the Colleges and Geneva communities; the Beads that Feed house at 623 South Main Street will focus on families in need, both in our community and around the world, through the expression of art; and Pride House, a co-op located at Stucco House on 283 Pulteney Street and designed for those in the LGBT community and their allies.
Maggie Manko ’14, the house manager for the Bridging the Gap House, came up with the theme after completing her first-year seminar “You Are Here: Geneva 101” where students explored the City of Geneva through both readings and physical interactions. Each student volunteered at a different location in the community. In applying to the theme house, members indicated interest in partaking in several activities and events throughout the year including a mentoring program being established between HWS and DeSales High School to further student involvement in the Geneva community. In addition, house members will publicize events being held on campus in the Geneva community to enhance the presence of community members on campus.
Manko sees the importance in students having “a relationship with the place that they call home for four years of their lives.” She hopes that “through close interactions and shared feelings of connectedness this relationship will not only bring many more people together, but also cultivate new ideas for collaboration between HWS and the Geneva communities.”
The Outdoor Education and Awareness House was created by Lucy Williams ’14 who considers herself an outdoor fanatic and wanted to bring likeminded students together to share in their love of the outdoors with the surrounding community. She is in the process of starting an after-school program with the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva that focuses on Outdoor Education and Awareness. The program will teach the students about their local area, educate them about simple outdoor skills and how to be environmentally friendly. All members of the house will participate in the weekly program.
Connie Mandeville ’12 decided to bring back the Pride House, which in the past hosted a coffee and tea hour with a guest professor every two weeks to discuss LGBT issues. She hopes to bring back this tradition in addition to other activities that foster a safe space for students who identify as LGBT and their allies to come together and socialize.
Mandeville believes the house will “raise awareness on LGBT issues and further the social justice atmosphere on campus.” In addition, she hopes that the Pride House will make students “feel more comfortable coming out in college and being who they truly are.”
There are also many traditional favorites that have been renewed again this year, such as the Substance Free House, Hope House and the Green House. All of the theme houses are responsible for putting on house events and sharing their theme with the community.
“With a myriad of house themes from year to year; Hobart and William Smith have created a vibrant theme house community on campus which spans an array of interest areas” says Tobey.