College approves special interest ‘eco-house’ dorm

Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler ’88 Ph.D. ’06 approved the proposal for the special interest, environmentally friendly “Eco-House” Jan. 23.

The house, which will be located in the basement of Landrum Hall, will be headed by biology professor Randy Chambers and will house eight men and 20 women.

Sophomore Lauren Edmonds, the main leader of the proposal, said she has many ideas for the Eco-House.

“We hope to be the community center for environmental programs on campus,” Edmonds said. “We’re going to host different speakers and presenters and also hold workshops open to the entire campus. Also, the house will be a testing ground for [Committee on Sustainability] projects so we’ll be trying different things they come up with to see if they’re effective.”

Edmonds said Chambers was chosen as the faculty advisor because of his tremendous interest in environmental projects.

“He’s involved in a few of the COS projects and really cares about on-campus environmental issues,” Edmonds said.

As the advisor, Chambers said his main goal is to act as a liaison between the Residence Life office and the college community.

“I’ll handle financial transactions as needed,” Chambers said. “For example, we will want to install a dedicated electrical meter to measure energy use in the Eco-House for comparison to other floors. I will attend Eco-House functions and meet with students to discuss pros and cons of the Eco-House living arrangements.”

Assistant Vice President and Director of Residence Life Deb Boykin said Reslife is not involved in the extensive approval process.

“The proposals are submitted to the Special Interest Housing Committee, which then reviews proposals and then makes recommendations to accept or not accept the proposal to the vice resident for Student Affairs, who makes the final decision,” Boykin said. “If approved, Residence Life then works with the approved group to identify suitable housing space and to ensure the house meets the special interest housing criteria.”

Boykin said students interested in living in the house will need to apply for a spot in the house.

“The applications will go to professor Chambers and he will coordinate the selection and assignment of students to spaces in the house,” she said. “Since the house was just approved, the application is not yet posted, but should be up early this week.”

Edmonds said that the most important criteria for Eco-House applicants should be a strong interest in promoting environmental awareness.

“The process will be competitive, and people will have to show that they can contribute to the house and bring a passion for environmental issues to the community,” Edmonds said.

Chambers said that the house will serve as a chance for students to live a unique lifestyle and experiment with the notion of sustainable living.

Edmonds said the Eco-House will be similar to other special interest houses around campus.

“The Italian House brought an opera company to the house last semester; we might bring in a speaker on sustainable food or sustainable fashion,” Edmonds said. “A lot will depend on the kinds of programs residents want to hold.”

Boykin said the College had an Eco-House from the fall of 2001 through the spring of 2003, but it was disbanded due to a lack of funding.

“It started out in Unit L, and in its second year interest dropped, so it was moved to a smaller space on a floor in Pleasants in the Randolph Complex,” Boykin said. “After two years, funding by the academic department supporting it was stopped and the house was discontinued.”

Chambers said he hopes the Eco-House will affect the college on multiple levels.

“Lots of students talk the talk, but this group will walk the walk and get a chance to educate themselves and others about the trials and tribulations of going green,” Chambers said.


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