The Power of the Theme House Community

Satchel Toole
Class of: 

Before coming to St. Lawrence I had little idea of what SLU was like. I visited once during my sophomore year of high school and did not return until the first day of Orientation. But as I sat in my car during the eight-hour ride from Maine the day before Orientation began, I remember realizing that I wasn’t very anxious or nervous. These feelings were directly attributed to the summer I had just spent at Pine Island Camp in my home state of Maine. On the staff that year there were nine SLU students and alumni, all of whom loved almost everything about the school. Although they tried to tell me as much as they could about the place that would soon become my home, there was always one central theme; the Outing Club. Granted, five of the staff had lived in the house, but nonetheless it immediately caught my attention.

When I finally settled into the first few weeks of my first year, the Outing Club had already become an incredible part of my life. Upon many suggestions, I signed up for the Muff Bluff trip led every fall. I then took every opportunity to go on trips, “Peaking” on Peak Weekend and canoeing the Bog River Flow to name a few. Although I enjoyed each and every trip because of the outdoor opportunities that they offered, the main reason that I kept coming back was the people. Every member of the house was extremely inviting and welcomed anyone to be a part of their adventures. The other participants all shared an interest in getting outside, leading me to befriend many other first-years and upperclassmen alike. About halfway through the following semester people began getting their housing lottery numbers, and applications for theme houses quickly followed. I decided to apply to the Outing Club, completely unaware to the full extent of community that I was about to fall into.

The first week back at school this fall was fun and exciting. Classes weren’t quite in full swing, and we were getting the last days of a beautiful North Country summer. One of the first things that the Outing Club did as a house was have a cookout with the Women’s Resource Center and the Java House. Everyone conversed, ate, and got to know each other. During the following weeks members of Java, the Dub, the Greenhouse, Commons College, and many other houses would get together to support each other’s efforts and events. A collection of people from the theme houses would go to each Java show together, attend Take Back the Night, and listen to music at Folk Fest. I saw my Park Street and University Avenue neighbors whenever I was out on campus, always being greeted by a smile or friendly wave. Now, on the cusp of finishing my sophomore years, I’ve realized the effect that this community has had on me.

It's safe to say that the community surrounding St. Lawrence led me here and has helped to develop my appreciation of the school. Campus almost feels like a close-knit neighborhood. The members of each house not only know one another, but are welcoming to all those who knock on the door or sign up for a trip. The theme house community has exceeded all expectations that I had for a college experience. Whether you’re interested in living in a house, or just want to check out the community, I highly recommend stopping by the Outing Club, Campus Kitchens, the Arts Annex, or any of the fantastic options that our school has to offer.