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Five New Themed Houses to Join Campus Community

By Zolzaya Erdenebileg

Want to drink coffee and write creatively? Theres a house for that. The Creative Writing/Coffee House is one of five new themed houses approved for next year. Five other themed houses were also reapproved for the 2012-13 school year.

The returning themed houses are Buddhist Club, Environmental Campus Organization (ECO) /People Endorsing Agrarian Sustainability (PEAS), International Students at Kenyon (ISAK), KAC Heads and Kenyon Food Co-op. The newly approved themed houses are BE: Victorious, a fellowship of Christian athletes; Bike Co-op; Community Service Club; Creative Writing/Coffee House and the Outdoors Club.

Due to the high rate of students studying abroad, rising sophomores will head many of the houses.

The Creative Writing/Coffee House seeks to provide a non-judgmental safe zone where budding artists can share their writing. Janet Wlody 13, the themed house coordinator, said Kenyon needs a relaxed environment for students to feel free to share their works.

All of the creative writing opportunities at Kenyon are through an application process, Wlody said. If youre applying to be in a creative writing class, which is pretty selective, or if youre already writing and submitting to HIKA or Persimmons, theres no forums where you can just get your feet wet.

The group encourages both seasoned writers and novices to attend. Next year, the house will host a monthly themed writing event where members will distribute prompts and works by professional authors. Creative Writing/Coffee House will be in a North Campus Apartment.

BE: Victorious, also occupying a North Campus Apartment, is a subset of BE:, a new Christian campus organization spearheaded by Jennifer and Zane Sanders, members of the Board of Spiritual and Religious Life. BE: seeks to bring all aspects of Christian life on campus under one umbrella, including Saturday Night Fellowship, Koinonia and Bible study groups. BE: Victorious specifically refers to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), a group only recognized as an official student organization this semester. Lianne Castile 13, one of the themed housing coordinators for BE: Victorious, is a member of the Ladies soccer team. A varsity letter, however, is not a prerequisite for FCA.

With FCA, we want it to be really open. You dont have to be a varsity athlete to be involved, Castile said. Some people living in the house next year were high school athletes.

This openness extends to religious affiliation as well. BE: Victorious welcomes students who are deeply religious as well as those who are less committed. Next year, BE: Victorious will be involved in community service and plans to organize support for Kenyon athletics. The themed housing option provides BE: Victorious with a space to organize and gather beyond its current weekly meetings. If we were living together, the conversations could continue, Castile said. We could be each others support system and live a lifestyle we want to live.

The Bike Co-op was originally denied in the first round of themed housing decisions. Through the appeals process, members explained how a house would help them foster a better relationship with the campus. Themed housing offers the Bike Co-op not only a space for bike maintenance, but also a headquarters that enables them to promote a positive bike culture on campus, according to Steve Nisi 14, the themed house coordinator.

We are here to encourage everyone to ride. It is as simple as that, Nisi said. Our role here on campus is to achieve that goal in any and every way we can. The Bike Co-op will have drop-in hours offering help for students. Its services range from simple tune-ups to revamping bikes that have been sent to campus.

Community Service House will reside in Spaid House, this years Music House, near the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC). They will organize volunteers for a number of local and global causes, focusing primarily on improving the relationship between Kenyon and the Gambier and Mount Vernon communities.

The Community Service House members have several ideas for future service projects. These include working with Transition Mission, an organization that teaches life skills to students in a Mount Vernon High School special needs program; hosting a fall festival meal with Hot Meals; collecting items for a holiday gift drive and making cards for military families. Olivia LaViolette 13, the themed house coordinator, is also president of Transition Mission.

For the first time since the organizations inception, the Outdoors Club will have its own themed housing. A house will allow the Outdoors Club to become more involved and active in campus life. Its slogan, Bringing the outdoors indoors, reflects its goal of becoming a larger presence on campus.

Rob Heavner 15, the themed house coordinator, believes having a house will help unify the club. Right now, its just an email dis-list. We dont have a place where we can meet, he said. The Outdoors House is meant to provide more unification and centralize the club. Current members hope the house will facilitate further involvement in campus life for the organization. Outdoors House will be in a North Campus Apartment.

After an incredibly successful and highly popular year of hosting weekly meditation sessions, Buddhist House will return to themed housing.

Nic Stougaard 15 and Joe Barden 15, future residents of Buddhist House, gravitate toward the organization for the focus it places on meditation. Buddhist House offers the community a place to step back from whatever stressors or responsibilities that were taking over their lives, Barden said.

Next year, Buddhist House will hold more meditation sessions and host dinners open to the entire community.

Its not just a personal, refreshing activity, Stougaard said. Theres conversation afterwards. They hope this conversation will extend beyond campus and into Knox County. Buddhist House will remain in its current Acland Apartment.

ECO/PEAS will also return to themed housing, though they hope eventually to gain permanent division housing. As a house, ECO/PEAS strives to both plan sustainability events open to the entire Kenyon community and provide an environment for those interested in an environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

[We] limit electricity and water use, we get local food and cook for ourselves and basically live almost like a family, said Sandy Stibitz 14, the themed house coordinator for ECO/PEAS. Part of that community feeling is holding each other accountable for these things and [creating] that sort of community space.

ECO/PEAS will again reside in a North Campus Apartment, and they hope to use that space for open houses, sustainability libraries and meetings.

Entering their fifth year as a themed house, International House will return to an Acland Apartment next year. International House is not limited to international students. In fact, none of the students living in the Acland Apartment next year are international students, but they all cite personal connections to the international community.

Damaris Garduno 15, who will live in International House, is a native Spanish speaker, and hopes to work in the medical field in Mexico someday. A big reason why we all want to live in the house is to become closer with the international students and to learn about different cultures, Garduno said.

International House hopes to aid those curious about the rest of the world, as well as students who wish to share their heritage. The residents of International House, in conjunction with the ISAK [International Students at Kenyon] group, plan to host more events like the International Tasting Session.

KAC Heads will also return to the house behind the KAC for the sixth year in a row. Eric Schulkin 13, who will be the president of KAC Heads and who will live in the house, believes KAC Heads can create a larger campus presence next year. I am hoping that we can recapture some fire and reestablish who we are, he said.

The KAC Heads plan to continue events like homecoming, weekly barbeques for football and charity events like Relay for Life. Additionally, they plan to put on more concerts and co-sponsor events with other campus organizations.

Entering into their third year of themed housing, the Kenyon Food Co-op will be in Murnen House, near the KAC rather than its current residence in the Acland Apartments. While the group attempted to appeal its housing placement, it was eventually denied. Elizabeth Halper 15, the themed house coordinator for the Food Co-op, expressed frustration at the housing assignment but remained optimistic.

[The house] gives it a kind of a home feel. [Food Co-op] really makes you feel like theyre inviting you into their home and I hope we can continue that, Halper said.

Despite the distance, Food Co-op plans to continue and build on its traditional events, including Saturday night dinners, pancake fundraisers, weekend breakfasts, Iron Chef and community-service-oriented events.

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