This Old Theme House

by Karl Lang

Despite the physical problems with Simpson’s theme houses, many students enjoy living in them.

Director of Housing Mandy Fox knows the theme houses are anything but perfect.

“I would say they are not our best housing on campus, that’s clear,” Fox said. “None of them are falling down, though. Out of all of our housing on campus, it’s our least glamorous.”

The problems with the theme houses range from pest problems, like bats, to unsafe basements.

“We have bats, a lot of bats,” junior Sarah Harriman said. “Earlier in the year we had a bat in the kitchen, and a bat in the living room.”

Harriman is the house manager for the Performing Arts House, and bats aren’t the only problem she lives with.

“The foundation sucks,” she said. “The whole entire house leans to one side, and there is no place in any room that the furniture isn’t tilted.”

According to Harriman, some problems aren’t the college’s responsibility.

“The basement is kind of off limits to us because it doesn’t have a fire escape, but we have our laundry facilities down there,” she said. “When the laundry goes, there is a leak in the washing machine and the water ends up everywhere. There is a drain, but then that water stands still and creates mold problems. But, because the washer and dryer were purchased by a former member of the house, it’s not something the school will really fix.”

According to Fox, the theme houses were purchased by the college as the school has expanded, which means they weren’t built with the intention of housing as many students as they do.

“They are old residential houses – they weren’t designed or built by the college, they were acquired by the college,” Fox said. “Some of them were meant as single-family houses or duplexes, they weren’t made for eight college students. It’s not substandard by any means, it’s just probably not as nice as mom and dad’s house.”

Despite the problems with the theme houses, many students want to continue to live in them. Most of the groups that are currently in them would like to stay.

“The good news is most of the groups re-applied this year, so we didn’t change that much,” Fox said. “It’s always a good thing when they have enough momentum going and want to keep it going.”

Only one of the current houses, the Balance House, did not re-apply, but another house is set up to take its place.

“The new group next year, taking the place of Balance House is the Student Support Services House, which is a new program on campus,” Fox said. “To have students excited enough to create a house with that theme is kind of cool.”

The new group liked the idea of helping the college out with this program.

“We thought it would be a good opportunity to help out the college with Student Support Services,” freshman Chelsy Croson, the future Student Support Services House manager said. “We thought it would be fun to do.”

Some members of the Student Support Services House have looked at their future living quarters.

“It looks pretty messy from the outside,” freshman Kirsten Towne said.

Freshman Emily Lundt agreed. “Yeah, it looks pretty basic from the outside,” she said.

Fox said theme houses allow students to live with their friends.

“Every house has some uniqueness to it,” Fox said. “The [students] get to live with a group of their friends. Some people find it to be home-like, and some people see it as a way to not live in a traditional residence hall.”

For now, groups applying for and living in the college’s theme houses will have to accept the houses’ flaws.

“It’s better than the dorms,” Harriman said. “I mean, it would be better if they knocked it down and gave us a new one, but that is not feasible, so we get by. I think for the theme houses, the budget needs to be bigger.”