I Hate It Here: A Response to Lit House Changes

By Will Malkus

Elm Staff Writer

So, the Lit House.

You don’t care, right? And when I say “you,” I’m referring to the vast majority of our campus, not the entirety of it, but the fact is, you don’t. Now, of course there are people who care; they’re the Lit House kids, right? But I won’t be talking about that today. Today you’re going to learn something.

You know where it is. You know where it is because it’s a big enough deal that tour guides are instructed to take every prospective student through it. And yes, at any given hour there will be anywhere between four and ten people sitting around on their laptops or with books open in their laps who look up sharply like “who is this intruder?” as soon as you walk through the door, but that’s going to change.

It has to. It’s time for it to, because the Lit House itself is changing, and for the love of God, I have been waiting for four years to see the way that people on this campus look at it change, too. Don’t get me wrong; if it weren’t for the Lit House, I would never have made any friends here. If it hadn’t been for a friend dragging me to the Lit House my freshman year, I would have probably spent the last four years playing video games by myself in my dorm room.

I will always be grateful to the House for giving me a place to go and giving me some of my best friends, but you know something? If I’d been forced to spend less time there, I probably would have been better off in the long run. But I’ll get to that. First, let’s talk facts.

In the article that was published last week, “Lit House Re-examines Role on Campus,” a lot of emphasis was put on the move to make it more of a highly recognized and trafficked “center of excellence.” As far as I can tell, all this really consists of is pushing the closing time of the House itself up by an hour and a half and limiting the use of the kitchen. The Kitchen’s guidelines, admittedly, seems arbitrary at best and megalomaniacal at worst. Essentially, it looks like Professor Dubrow is making it more of a campus facility and less of a clubhouse, and that sounds like a really good idea to me.

Because I had a place to spend literally all of my time, I passed two years of my college career with no knowledge of anything that was happening outside the Lit House. I would get up, go to class, then head straight to the House and stay there until I went to bed, usually around four or five in the morning. If I’d been forced to reach outside of that comfort zone, I can’t help but suspect that I would’ve had a more fulfilling freshman year. I mean, what are the basic tenants of a freshman year? You start having experiences with alcohol, you make friends who know nothing about you, you get involved in clubs, you step outside your safe place and challenge yourself, you define how you want to be perceived for the next four years.

But I didn’t have most of that until I left the Lit House behind me. I still go there, because it’s comfortable and welcoming, and it’s a great resource. I go there to study, write papers, and attend readings, but I don’t live there anymore. It’s not home, and it shouldn’t be a home for anyone, because a house and a home are very different things. The Lit House is a facility, and it’s a wonderful resource, but at the end of the day, it belongs to the administration. Don’t try to make it more than it is. Just go there. Please. For the first time, or the millionth, just go and use it, because we are so lucky to have it, and it’s easy to lose sight of that. Help it change.

See, the difference is, your home is for you and your loved ones, and sure, that’s nice, but a house is for everyone, and that’s a whole different kind of beautiful.

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