Black students receive House 5 bid
Washington University accepted black students’ bid for House 5 on Upper Row for fall 2018.
After Phi Delta Theta’s permanent suspension from campus last month left House 5 vacant for fall 2018, two groups of students—black students and members of the Women’s Panhellenic Association (WPA)—sent proposals to the University administration expressing interest in filling the house. An administrative team composed of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori White, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Rob Wild and Executive Director of Residential Life Kawanna Leggett reviewed the proposals and made the decision Tuesday morning.
White said that both proposals made excellent cases and were considered.
“I just want to emphasize that both proposals were great—and if we had more housing, we certainly would have made it possible for both groups,” she said.
According to White, the team decided to reassign House 5 to black students because 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Black Manifesto. In 1968, the Association of Black Collegians at Washington University led a series of actions that shed light on segregation and harassment of black students on campus. The association issued a series of requests from administration, and among those was one for a black student residential hall.
“We clearly have not done that, and so, while I wouldn’t say this was a driving force, we are going to be celebrating 50 years of that group of active students,” White said. “And it’s wonderful that 50 years later [we can] make their vision a reality.”
President of the Association of Black Students (ABS) and senior Reuben Hogan is excited for the opportunities that this opens for Washington University’s black students and noted that the house is not just for members of ABS.
“A lot of black students don’t always feel like they have a space included ABS, which is something that we’ve kind of tried to change and reform this year. But we want to make sure and make very clear that it is for any student, whether or not you feel like you satisfy the mold,” Hogan said.
Many discussions are being held regarding programming for the house community. Hogan believes that black students will take initiative to become more involved with the greater St. Louis community.
“I’m really excited for what [programming] could mean because if we have the funds set aside [we could] do programs where we allow students to engage in St. Louis,” Hogan said. “SU in the past has been kind of reducing funds for community service to go and be involved in the community, and so this offers another route of programming funds for us to engage in the community in a way that might be service-oriented.”
WPA president and junior Genevieve Leach said the sorority community is excited that black students received House 5.
“We are all just really happy that it was given to such a worthy group,” Leach said. “I just think they’re going to do so many amazing things now that they have this house. And hopefully, they will have it for many years to come as a place for African-American students on this campus to come together. I think they have a really bright future for it, and I’m excited.”
Although WPA did not receive House 5, the organization looks to continue moving forward with plans and is keeping an open conversation with Residential Life about potential sorority housing. According to Leach, she received a positive response from Wild.
“It was a very nice email, and [the administrators] actually expressed that they are looking forward to building a relationship with us in the future. So, I’m excited about the potential there,” Leach said.
The house has 30 beds, configured as nine singles, nine doubles and one triple. Now that the black students have secured the house, the 30 students that signed up as part of the proposal have been officially notified that they will be living there next year.
They will need to appoint two resident advisers. According to Hogan, some people requested to be House 5 RAs on their housing applications.
“Whatever RAs get that opportunity to be in the house, we want to make sure that they’re going to be actively engaging the community in a way that is unique and cannot be done in other situations,” Hogan said.
The administrative team plans to meet with the black students living in House 5 soon to discuss the options of programming and assigning a faculty member.
“We know that we want to identify a faculty member to be associated with theme hall and certainly want to give the students an opportunity to have educational and other programs,” White said. “So, we will sit down with them and talk a little bit more about their vision and figure out ways in which we can ensure that that vision can come to fruition.”
Hogan believes that the first year in the house will go very well.
“I wish I could be here, honestly, to see it. I’m imagining that it’s going to be a beautiful experience for the students who are involved because it will be the first time that we will have a centralized place on campus for students to exist,” Hogan said. “I imagine that this is going to be a super amazing opportunity for just cohesion of black students on campus—to be able to interact with each other more and in a more consistent manner.”