by Taylor Smallwood
Starting next semester, students who have applied to live in Eco House will be completing the program and living together in the suites of East Houses.
The Eco House, where students dedicated to community and environmentally friendly lived, was previously located in a house at 1610 Moore Street. “We’ve designated space for them again, but we’ve designated it in a different location. The location designated for the Eco House community will be in East next year,” said Jesse Leonard, interim director of Residential Life and director of Public Safety.
Eco House and Global Village students will be making similar transitions into residence halls. “Very similar to the Global Village houses, those houses are moving to the TnT residence hall, we wanted to do the same for Eco House as well. It’s more traditional to have living and learning communities inside your traditional residence halls, it’s a more common model,” said Leonard.
“(Juniata tries) to mirror other peoples’ strategies instead of making our players and our strategies better,” said Professor of Environmental Science Neil Pelkey, advisor of the Eco House. “I know that people come here because they might have a chance to live in Eco House. I think we’re trying to be like somebody else.”
“Lots of institutions like Juniata have a lot more living and learning communities verses special interest housing,” said Leonard. “So the future goal is that the Eco House and the Global Village will set a good foundation as we continue to build that type of residential program.”
There are multiple goals in these housing transitions. “We wanted to bring them back into the residence halls, and that gives them more exposure to more students versus being somewhat isolated within the house where only the residents of that small house are exposed to that kind of culture or lifestyle, so this gives the opportunity for other students to be exposed to other cultures and lifestyles as well,” said Leonard.
“Our ideas are that we want to involve the other people in the tower, but it’s kind of difficult because they didn’t sign up for this community. Those aren’t their expectations when moving into East,” said senior and president of Eco House Alexis Klein.
Another goal of the changes is related to upperclassmen housing. “We also would like to create more apartment-style living to be available at room draw,” said Leonard. “So what that does is we will be able to add about 55 beds to room draw that was not available in previous years. So we have doubled the amount of apartment-style beds for room draw.”
“Things are rough all over and they’re trying to figure it out, but I really dislike that this is their solution. They know that and we have talked about it a lot,” said Klein. “I think that their intentions are alright, but I don’t think they got that across to us early enough in this process.”
There will be some accommodations made to East Houses to fulfill the lifestyle of Eco House. “For the most part, they’re already energy efficient,” said Leonard. “As the community grows, we can look toward even making some more accommodations. We’ll make as many as we possibly can over the summer. Most of what they requested is already in East and our other residence halls.”
Some students have given negative feedback on the changes. “The spaces are different, but it still provides the same kind of accommodations as the previous house did. It just won’t have that house-feel. It’s been difficult and we recognize that. The goal of Res-Life is to hopefully set them up to be successful in their new location and we’re going to try to do the best we can with that,” said Leonard.
“The main things that we look for are people who want to live in community and want to actually be involved with the people they’re living with, and who have had the opportunity to do that or just want the opportunity to do that. We also look for people who want to be environmentally conscious, or already are and want to continue or have found it extremely difficult in the dorms to do that,” said Klein.
“I’m aware that lots of things are happening and we are not their only transitional community, but that was really hard to see,” said Klein. “It’s really hard to have worked so hard and then just feel like you have made no difference and that they see none of it.”
Moving Eco House to the East Houses will open up more spaces for students who want to be a part of the House. “The other advantage of moving them is we can give them more available space. So the Eco House only held 12 and in the last couple years, they had trouble filling all of the beds with Eco House students so this year we will be able to designate more beds for them,” said Leonard.
Interest in being a part of Eco House reportedly has declined this year. “It’s fair to say that the interest in those communities has dropped because of the new location and unfortunately a lot of that, I think, is due to students wanting to live in those spaces for the accommodations, not necessarily the experience,” said Leonard.
“Since the decisions have been made, we now have less than 10 of them still willing to follow this community to East. It says a couple of things, but unfortunately it also takes away the cool people who are still interested in sustainability and our community but see East as too much of the opposite,” said Klein.
Categories: Volume 97 Issue 9 News