In response to ‘The fall of the theme house system’


By Sydney Paluch

Over the past few weeks there have been articles vehemently attacking the creation of a new theme house.

Known as Rights House, according to its proposal, it will “promote educational awareness, advocacy and activism in regards to human rights.”

Although it is hard to imagine that anyone could possibly disapprove of such a laudable mission, there have been several, reasonable objections raised. The majority of these objections concern the fact that Rights House will be replacing Music Culture House.

“My housemates and I were sent packing because we were being punished for the lack of effort put into hosting events in past years,” the article claims.

Well, yes! It is unfortunate that the current residents do not feel that their efforts were properly considered. However (and I do not mean to sound cruel!), they did have a year to “provide a wide variety of free, alternate events”.

Much of the choice to replace Music Culture House probably did revolve around the, “lack of commitment from previous tenants,” as stated by author of “The fall of the theme house system” Ryan Asselin ’16; but apparently the current residents did not exhibit sufficient initiative, either.

Sadly, it is simple: if you want to receive funding, you cannot exhibit a “lack of commitment.”

Additionally, Asselin claims that “none of us were told that the house we would move into would be up for review during our residency,” but also says, “Theme houses are reviewed by the Student Affairs Council (SAC) board once every one, two or three years.”

It appears that the residents certainly had plenty of prior information!

The author also details his reasoning on why Rights House is, in itself, an exercise in political correctness.

In attemping to diminish the importance of the new house, Asselin, ironically, supports it. “It is always easier to vote down a house themed around something simple like music instead of a pressing issue.”

Why thank you, I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Human rights are a pressing issue, and with horrid human rights violations like Boko Haram’s kidnapping of children in Nigeria, human rights need to be at the forefront of our consciousness.

If theme houses merely center around “simple, relatable themes,” then the system is not reflecting the deeper intellectual concerns of a majority of the student population.

With all due respect, Music Culture House is being replaced by Rights House because of the lack of initiative on the part of Music Culture House and the pressing need for Rights House.

We, as a student body, are looking to make a difference, and Rights House perfectly encapsulates our drive and desire beyond mere “simple, reasonable themes.”

Librarian emeritus Thomas McFadden also composed a disapproving article, questioning the creation of Rights House.

In it, he inquires if “anyone seriously believes that there will be free and open discussion of the rights of anyone outside the mainstream of current liberal thought?”

Actually, yes. Some of the seven students asked to reside in Rights House are very conservative thinkers with a politically “right” mindset.

Living alongside liberal students, inter-ideological discussion is exactly what Rights House stands for.

“Will Rights House dare to discuss the conflict between universal human rights and local cultural and political practices?”

Yes to both, as well.

While other houses and groups focus on a specific subset of rights, Rights House is all-inclusive.

Thus the conflict between “universal human rights and local cultural and political practices” is a central issue for Rights House, because the house will, according to the Rights House proposal, “promote advocacy and activism.”

In fact, the Rights House proposal clearly states, “The main component of Rights House that differentiates it from the previously mentioned theme houses is the focus on educative action rather than discussion.”

Libraria emeritus Thomas McFadden asks, “Can Rights House emulate this laudable goal? Otherwise, it has no justification for existence.”

Well, with a dedication to the pressing need for human rights, a passionate group of residents and the support of the campus community, Rights House can and will emulate this laudable goal.

Not only does Rights House have justification for existence, it has a right to it.



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