Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

New interest suites to help upperclassmen engage in campus community

Illustration: Alex Bailey

OTHER POTENTIAL HEADLINES: Interest suites expand options for upperclassman housing, New housing option to accommodate changing interests

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A large portion of Whitman upperclassman residence life is made up of the Interest House Community, where upperclassman students can apply to live in an “interest house” and participate in various activities that are central to the house’s theme. Interest House themes range from Spanish language to fine arts. This year, however, “interest suites” can be added to the housing options for Whitman upperclassmen.

An interest suite is a group of eight students who have a common interest and want to share it with the campus. The suites will be housed in Douglas Hall, which has nine apartment-like suites that each house eight students.

Suites will also be given an allotment of Douglas Hall funds to host programs that will be either open to the rest of Douglas Hall or the rest of Whitman.

Resident Director Bryce McKay, who proposed the “interest suites,” learned about other schools who had similar interest house communities to Whitman, but whose communities changed interests yearly, at a conference for the Northwest Association of College and Housing Officers.

McKay was inspired to incorporate a similar component to upperclassman housing at Whitman.

“I’d been looking for a way to increase engagement of upperclassmen,” McKay said.

McKay noted that the interest suites are a good way of building upon the strengths of the layout of Douglas Hall.

“This is a way to utilize the strengths of the suite system in Douglas. It’s really easy in Douglas for your suite to become really close and not know a lot of people outside of the suite,” he said. “But when you focus on that strength and build a community around it and give them an opportunity to host events, that is a way to bring the suites out to the whole of Douglas and campus.”

Sophomore Resident Assistant Walker Larson agreed and hopes that the leaders of the interest suites will encourage more upperclassmen to engage more fully with their housing community.

“Spatially, Douglas is definitely different. As an RA here, people have to go through three doors to see me as opposed to the one that most people have to go through,” he said.  “Hopefully the leaders of the interest suites will do a good job of spearheading interaction between other suites.”

Residence Life staff will be running a pilot program this year with two Douglas Hall suites and hope to expand the interest suites if it proves to be successful.

“As far as upperclassman housing is concerned, there are very different needs that we try to meet in Residence Life,” McKay said. “We’re excited about the idea of ‘interest suites’ and letting people develop their own community.” +

 

 

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