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Sustainability House to debut next fall

Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 03:02

latin way

Dira Djaya for The Tufts Daily

Environmentally conscious students still looking for housing for next year can now apply to live in a newly−founded special Sustainability House. The newest of Tufts’ 15 Special Interest Houses will be located in a 10−person suite in Latin Way starting next year.

“The goal is to bring students together with similar interests around environmental and sustainability issues,” Director of the Office of Residential Life and Learning Yolanda King said in an email to the Daily. “The members of the house will be promoting knowledge and awareness around sustainable living, which will have significant influence and impact on other students residing in the residence halls and houses.”

Seniors Rose Eilenberg and Danielle Jenkins, members of the Sustainable Action Squad, last fall developed the idea for the creation of the house and submitted a proposal, including letters of support from faculty and the Office of Sustainability, according to Jenkins.

“The students have spent over a year planning for the unit by completing a thorough proposal with a mission/goals and overall purpose of how the unit will function,” King wrote.

Eilenberg and Jenkins were notified last week that their proposal had been ratified by a ResLife committee and the Tufts Community Union Senate, Jenkins said.

Given its approval late in the semester, the house was granted extra time to complete its resident roster, and students can now apply to live in the house for the 2013−2014 academic year, according to Jenkins.

“We want to have interviews with the applicants and really gauge their personalities — see how they’ll work together in the house,” Eilenberg said.

Jenkins hopes the house will include students who are already very dedicated to the sustainability movement on campus as well as students who have not previously had the opportunity to get involved in it.

“I think the most important thing is to continue to create a bigger community around environmental issues,” Director of the Environmental Studies Program and Professor of Biology Colin Orians, who will serve as the director of the house next year, said. “One of my goals as being director was to create a sense of community around the program. Not every student who’s in the house will be an Environmental Studies major, but to me it’s just another way of creating a community around the environment.”

Jenkins hopes the house will serve as a meeting space for the different clubs under the umbrella of the Tufts Sustainability Collective.

“I really want it to be sort of a focal point of the environmental community — a place where people can gather physically,” Eilenberg said. “I want it to be a meeting space, it’s really about community and encouraging collaboration between different groups.”

Jenkins anticipates that the house will also host sustainability related dinners and discussions about relevant topics. Future house residents will decide the topics around which to focus events, according to Eilenberg.

“I think it’s definitely going to be up to the residents,” Eilenberg said. “And it might not necessarily be events; it might be sort of campaigns or research. We want everyone who lives in the house to be somehow involved with the environmental movement on campus.”

Orians said he would like to see the house host outside speakers and possibly organize a yearly student−run conference.

Given Latin Way’s proximity to Tom Thumb’s Student Garden, Eilenberg added that residents of the Sustainability House might be able to grow their own food next year.

Although the group originally applied to be in a free−standing house that would fit between 12 and 17 students, there were no free−standing houses available at the time, Jenkins explained. The Sustainability House will be given the opportunity to move to a new location if a house is made available, after all other culture groups not currently residing in a house have a chance to move in.

“We are very excited to have another living option to meet the needs of our students,” King said.

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