Campus / News / Student Senate / March 6, 2013

Senate approves theme houses after contention

Student Senate

A theme-oriented mode of thinking was implemented by the Student Senate Campus Life Committee in re-evaluating the theme housing recommendation process, leading to the passing of recommendations during a special meeting held Monday.

The special Senate meeting was held Monday evening in the Wilson House, as the initial theme housing recommendations were not passed during the regular Senate meeting Feb. 28.

Student Senate President senior Michael Gasparro applauded the process as a whole.

“Theme housing worked seamlessly. I know it was a complicated process … but this is the way it was supposed to happen. It wasn’t supposed to be the committee just deciding. It was supposed to be a cohesive effort between Senate and the Committee with reevaluation built in to the process,” Gasparro said.

The primary changes made were in response to the committee failing to recommend two theme house candidates, Health and Wellness House and Sweet Suite, which received a large number of votes during the theme housing fair. Initial concerns surrounding these houses voiced by Brar surrounded their ability to perform their themes and involve the greater student body.

Both of the themes in question received recommendations for suites in Post Hall during the additional meetings held after the Feb. 28 Senate meeting.

“The reason they didn’t get Post suites last time is because the committee … was putting much more weight on whether or not the committee believed that the theme house was committed to their theme and whether or not the committee believed that the theme house would perform their themes … therefore, the committee voted not to approve those houses,” Brar said.

The new sense of direction within the committee is more theme-oriented, with less emphasis placed on the predicted performance of the house. With more significance placed on the idea of having a “good theme,” more pressure will be placed on the committee, and Senate as a whole, to ensure that the performance of the houses is acceptable.

“We did end up saying that yes, a good theme was very important to the process, and from there we would basically help those theme houses perform to their best level,” Brar said.

All of the candidate houses were ultimately found to be beneficial for the campus.

“In the end, to be consistent with the good themes criteria, the committee decided that all the themes were good themes, that they were all good for the Knox College campus and that that would be the only way that Campus Life would approve any houses., Brar said.

Several issues remain, including the initial concern about giving Post Hall suites to theme houses.

“The Post suites aren’t ideal; they live 16 people and neither of the groups have that. They will have the opportunity to add for a short period of time… it will give both groups a chance to show their dedication,” Campus Life Committee member sophomore Payton Rose said.

If the theme houses do not fill the additional spaces, they will be filled through the housing lottery.

In order to make the process more transparent and eliminate this problem in the future, the committee is considering changing the process from a general application to an application in which groups apply for specific living spaces. Previously, some theme house proposals were given preference because the number of people on the proposal matched the number of spaces in a house.

“We will definitely be adding something that I thought was very helpful … how many spots are available and what houses are available, ” Brar said.

A final issue the committee plans to address is the theme housing fair voting system. During the initial Senate meeting, Brar voiced concerns that students would come in and vote for their friends’ houses and not thoroughly consider every candidate. This led to the discounting of the votes during the process.

One possible solution would be to expand the simple ballot into a comment card on which students would give their reasoning for wanting the theme house on campus, along with a rating of the candidate’s mission statement and booth presentation.

“I don’t know if we’re allowed to change to an alternate voting system. I have to talk to other Campus Life chairs in the past to see what would happen … but we’re looking to maybe institute a comment drop box,” Brar said.

While the focus on the viability of certain themes worked in selecting houses this year, Brar was unable to speak to whether or not future Campus Life chairs will continue the practice.

Committee reports

Treasurer’s report — The German Club was given $35 for a stress relief event to be held during the finals period.

Technology — Several computers in Founders Lab have been re-equipped with the Fast Lane function, which bypasses the usual lengthy login process, in hopes of identifying technical issues and expanding the Fast Lane to more computers.

Sustainability — The growing dome proposal is under review by Committee Chair junior Nora McGinn and Sustainability Coordinator Shawn Tubb. A presentation will be given at Senate on Thursday.

Admissions, Retention and Placement — Knox has received 2,200 applications up to this point, which is 600 more than last year.


Tags:  animal house approval book club burrow campus life fast lane founders german club health lighthouse michael gasparro nora mcginn nostalgia paul brar payton rose Student Senate sustainability sweet suite theme housing tree house

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Julian Boireau
Julian Boireau is a senior majoring in international relations and minoring in French. This is his fourth year working for TKS, having served as co-news editor during his sophomore and junior years. He has been involved in journalism for seven years, serving as opinions editor of the newspaper and editor-in-chief of the literary magazine at Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles, California. In September 2012, Julian received press credentials to attend the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, where he reported on remarks by President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He is also the recipient of back-to-back first place awards from the Illinois College Press Association for front page layout.

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