Former Tri-Delta house to be included in expanded special interest housing options, applications open

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Student group applications for special interest housing in the former Tri-Delta sorority house, pictured above, as well as other residences. (Photo by Barış Yazici ’25)

Aliana Mediratta, Contributing Writer

This year, students can apply to new special interest housing spaces–in some cases a whole building–for the 2022-2023 school year. 

The buildings available for special interest housing will include the entirety of 2 West Campus, which was formerly home to the Tri-Delta sorority. Parts of 225 Reeder Street, Farber Hall, Keefe Hall, Ramer Hall and Rubin Hall will also be available, according to Dean of Students Brian Samble.

Within the past four to five years, students have said that their clubs/student [organizations] could also benefit from a dedicated living-learning space in which the group could purposefully advance the group’s goals,” Grace Reynolds, the director of Residence Life, wrote in an email. 

Special interest housing, which has existed on-campus for 25 years according to Reynolds, consists of students with a shared interest residing together in an on-campus residential hall. Group sizes can vary from 11-25 people, allowing for larger sizes than block housing options or Monroe Street living-learning communities, which are “off-campus living and learning community where students assume responsibility for creating their own educational opportunities around an identified theme,” according to the College website. While there are 18 Monroe Neighborhood Houses, there are only two special interest groups.

Current special interest housing includes the Music Appreciation Floor (MAFia) located on the third floor of Ramer Hall and Tabletop and Roleplaying Appreciation Programs (TRAP) in Keefe Hall. Former housing has included the French House, the Lafayette Organization of Science and Technology, Students for Social Justice and Cinema in Society. 

Olivia Lattanzi ‘23, who serves as MAFia’s treasurer, described the positive impact of the shared living space on its members, citing the fact that alumni still return to visit their former home.

It’s comforting to know that no matter how bad of a day you are having, there will always be a friendly face in the common room to help turn it around,” Lattanzi wrote in an email. “Everyone is very supportive of each other.”  

In March 2021, the student government Greek life committee passed “A Resolution for the Prioritization of Campus Community Development” in order to promote the expansion of options for special interest housing. Caroline Burns ‘22, a representative on the committee, explained that the resolution came as a response to a survey that indicated that 71.4% of unaffiliated students believed that Greek life has negative impacts on the Lafayette community. 

The resolution specifically stated that Greek life finds strength in shared housing because it gives the members a community space. This community-building opportunity should be available to all students, regardless of affiliation, according to the resolution.

The administration took notice of the resolution as more space became available to allocate for housing.

Burns noted that the survey results showed that those affiliated with Greek life enjoy their involvement, so creating parallel spaces for those who do not wish to rush could create a more enriching community with more options for social engagement.

“Special interest housing gives students the autonomy to create the community that they want [and] to become a part of a community that is more financially inclusive; they don’t need to pay dues and there is no recruitment process,” Burns said. 

Lattanzi agreed, writing that “because we have our own floor, we are able to hold more events than if we were just a club. Having our own space means that even if we do not have a club event that weekend, you can always find someone around to grab dinner or watch a movie with.”

In reference to the dynamic between affiliated and non-affiliated students, Samble explained that the student government resolution spoke to leveling the playing field among student groups.

Whether organizations are Greek or non-Greek, all organized groups that can articulate value, learning objectives, and fill their space are welcome to apply,” he wrote. 

Applications for special interest housing will be presented to a panel of staff and students who will evaluate their ability to add to the Lafayette community through the space requested, among other criteria. Applications are currently open on Lafayette’s Residence Life website and must be submitted by 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, 2021.