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Concluding the Convent Conversation

A sneak peek of the renovations underway in the convent

Last night, Deans Shollenberger and Martinez attempted once again to gather community input on the fate of Columbia’s newest residential acquisition, the former St. Hilda’s House convent on 113th.

Seeing as Bwog and Spec were joined by no less than two legitimate voices of the “community,” the event was less a conversation and more a private screening of some fancy architectural mockups with pretty pictures; also, an opportunity for Bwog to gather some much-needed intel for the coming housing season:

  • The new residence hall boasts an equal number of singles and doubles, housing a total of 78 students
  • In case you couldn’t do the math, that’s 26 singles and 26 doubles
  • At least 5 different individual Special Interest Communities (SICs) of 8-16 members each will call the building home
  • The hall will likely be organized under a guiding theme such as Creativity & Innovation (member SICs might include Writer’s House, a performing arts group, ADI, etc) or Global Issues (cultural, social justice and religious groups)
  • This theme will be decided by the end of the semester, along with the details of the application process
  • The application process will be adapted from the existing SIC application process and will be open to new and existing SICs
  • Dean Martinez mentioned potential student involvement in the selection process
  • The application process for this residence hall will not be open to Greek organizations
  • If an existing SIC with a brownstone moves into the convent, that now-vacant space may or may not be opened to Greek organizations, depending on the space in question
  • Due to the relatively large student population, there will be a security guard at the residence hall’s entrance
  • The total interior renovation is on schedule, despite delays due to Sandy and NYC inspection regulations
  • There will be wood floors in individual rooms, with carpeting in floor common areas
  • Entry level common area features wood floors, and really nice tile in the “cellar” a.k.a. basement
  • There is a large multi-purpose room in basement, which can be arranged as a dining hall or lecture space, and it will likely have portable (not permanently installed) A/V equipment such as a projector, screen, and microphoned podium
  • The basement also features a full kitchen, allowing for a partial dining plan with shared, building-wide meals perhaps once a week
  • In case the above luscious amenities weren’t enough, the cellar also houses a bicycle storage room, laundry room, and computer lab
  • Also: Wi-Fi
  • There will be two RAs in the building, as well as a faculty or staff member-in-residence in an apartment on the first floor

The current plans for this extremely enticing new living space will open up more of the most desirable residence hall space (read: EC townhouses/suites) to the lottery, while maintaining and extending the valuable Special Interest Community program. It remains to be seen how this new building will affect the ongoing struggle for space between SICs and Greek Life.

Holy digs via Wikimedia Commons

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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous This was announced the day before and everybody left after less than half an hour of waiting. Why did they even bother if they weren’t going to give a few days’ notice?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Keep this building open for the general lottery for everyone.

  • Anoni says:

    @Anoni Like this if you think all brownstones should go to Greeks, and all the Convent should go to SICs (which could include Manhattan House or Q House). Dislike if you disagree.

  • indifferent non-greek student says:

    @indifferent non-greek student It seems like the administration keeps trying to give SICs and critics of Greek life chances to get their voices heard but no one really takes advantage of these opportunities. Then, the SICs and critics (critics mostly) complain when Greek life gets another housing opportunity. I don’t think it’s a matter of the Greek community being more organized than the SICs or Greek opponents, but rather the critics are simply just a vocal minority and that the greater whole of the student community actually doesn’t mind or care about the frats/sororities and where they live.

    1. Relevant x-post from b@b says:

      @Relevant x-post from b@b (Also an indifferent non-Greek student.) “If an existing SIC with a brownstone moves into the convent, that now-vacant space may or may not be opened to Greek organizations.” Both the brownstones and convent are relatively small spaces which get the most utility out of them when used by student groups. The latter is only open to 5-7 SICs (many of which applied but didn’t get a brownstone). Assuming the current brownstones go 3/3 Greek and many of the SICs who had applied for one get the convent brownstones, the remaining groups would be mostly Greek. If the application process to get the vacated SIC brownstones and suites is the same as the current process, those groups would have a huge leg up. Only the formation of new SICs would affect their chances, and judging by the turnout at the convent meeting, I doubt that will happen. Basically, as long as brownstones and suites are only open to student groups, and students remain apathetic toward forming new SICs, Greek life WILL continue to get them.

  • SO says:

    @SO All the complaints about the frats moving back into the brownstones…and TWO people show up to find out about housing options being specifically developed for SICs?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous falacious argument. Greeks are a united community with joint interests in a way that the rest of campus is not. there’s not “people who like SICs” listserv to blast out to that members need to come to a given meeting or comment on bwog in support like the frats have, and used.

      1. Yes but says:

        @Yes but there are plenty of whiners here who are motivated by Greek hatred to take action, or so the comments on BWOG would make it seem. The only reason that this new SIC housing won’t go to Greeks is because it is specefically stated in the rules–or you know they’d come out in numbers to support one another once again.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous Agree with most of what you said, but also, keep in mind that the more SICs who have brownstones/townhouses move into the convent, the more potential spaces are opened up for Greek life. So really, it’s in their best interest to ignore the (IMO) less desirable space on 113th and wait for the former occupancies to open up.

      2. SO says:

        @SO Are you fucking kidding me? The greek organizations might be able to blast out to their respective listservs, but this meeting was advertised to THE ENTIRE STUDENT BODY by Dean Shollenberger. It’s your counterargument that is fallacious.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous Bwog even made a post reminding people about it – “On Bias and the Brownstone Committee.” This is also KevSho’s second attempt at having this meeting. One more thing – it’s unlike Columbia to be so proactive in publicizing these meetings and sending an e-mail justifying the brownstone finalist choices. I think this is hinting that the brownstones are gonna go 3/3 Greek, so the convent going to all SICs makes more sense.

    2. shrinking violet says:

      @shrinking violet No one told me in advance, there wasn’t a huge outcry and I saw the bwog post too late. Why not hold this conversation on low steps or something?

      1. because it's says:

        @because it's fucking cold

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous why not put all the frats in the convent (just think of it as mcbain, but more so) and give the brownstones to the SICs? that way, there’s a place for greek life on campus, but it won’t get in the way of the rest of us.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous b/c that block assc has a contract with columbia guaranteeing that no fraternities be house there due to noise.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous fuck. i guess columbia doesn’t care that its library is on the current frat row…

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous get in the way of the rest of you? rest of you doing what? how is greek life getting in the way of anything you do?

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