Editorial: Variations on themed housing: To expand our space to apply our learning, expand our options for housing

Posted by the Editorial Board

Campus life at Skidmore could benefit from themed housing. If students had the option to live with others who share their academic or creative passions they could whet the skills they learn in the classroom. 

Skidmore currently has very little to offer when it comes to themed housing. As underclassmen, students who desire to live in themed housing are currently limited to gender neutral or single gender options.

The themed housing options in the on-campus apartments are equally limited. Scribner Village - while it still stands - offers only two themed housing options:  Outing Club and International. As the aging Scribner apartments are razed and replaced with the slope apartments and eventually the new Scribner village, we have the occasion to think about ways of improving campus life through housing. 

Having themed housing would provide students with an outlet for their academic passions. Living with people who share some overlapping interest would facilitate discussion outside of the classroom. In college, a very small portion of the week is actually spent in class. Themed housing can inspire the lovers of learning who are students of liberal arts. 

For those who study foreign languages, the opportunity to practice the language in a house of others with a range of linguistic proficiency would be invaluable. 

While language classes provide students with an introduction to literature of cultural significance or a base in grammatical structures, it is just that, a base. Learning a language must happen outside of the classroom. It cannot be restricted to the few hours of the week that are spending in class. Though the language clubs are a useful resource to those who are passionate about learning a foreign language, they are only a finite supplement. Extra effort must be spent to master idiomatic expressions, usage, humor and cultural norms. 

Any student who demonstrates an interest in a foreign language should be eligible. Students in language houses do not necessarily need to be foreign language majors. Although 59 percent of Skidmore's students spend at least one semester studying abroad, 41 percent of students spend their entire college tenure on campus. Because of the particular course requirements and prerequisites for some majors, it can be difficult to study abroad and graduate in four years. Living in a language house can offer an alternative to the linguistic and cultural immersion one would experience while abroad. 

Providing the option of language themed housing with native speakers would not have to be either difficult or expensive. Skidmore already invites and provides housing for native speakers to act as language assistants and resources.   

While the facilitation of language learning is the most obvious benefit of themed housing, we certainly do not need to limit ourselves. Academic or certain extracurricular themes would also be appropriate and inspire creative collaboration.

An environmentally conscious house could serve as a prototype for new campus initiatives and policies that aim to conserve resources and reduce costs and environmental impact. As an incentive to conserve, students in such a house could agree to pay their own utilities bills. Students could save money for the school and for themselves by reducing their consumption.

The liberal arts should facilitate a constant desire for learning. As an institution of liberal arts, we should keep this in mind for every aspect of campus life, housing included.

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