Affinity houses offer minority programming

by Kathleen McDermott | 8/1/01 5:00am

Upperclassmen at Dartmouth have a wide array of housing options, including several affinity houses, each offering students a unique living experience.

One of the newest affinity houses, the Latin American, Latino and Carribean Studies House (LALACS) just opened to students this Summer term, and already its residents are singing the praises of what they characterize as a cozy, home-like niche that has been carved out on campus.

"I just felt comfortable in it, with the people who are there, the new faces of Latinos at Dartmouth," explained LALACS resident Luis Lopez '03.

In addition to housing 14 students of both Latino and non-Latino backgrounds who have an interest in Latino culture, the house hosts various social and academic events.

For example, this summer the LALACS house hosted the Afro-Cuban All Stars, a salsa group that came to visit the Dartmouth campus. Community dinners with Latinos in the Upper Valley, movies and guest lectures have been a few of the house's other events this term, Lopez added.

But according to Lopez, the value of the house comes not so much from its formal programming events but from the space it provides to "relax in, have fun, meet people," as well as hang out and converse in "Spanglish."

In addition to the LALACS house, La Casa -- another College affinity house -- provides another Spanish-related housing option, although its emphasis is not so much on Latino culture as simply the Spanish language.

Other College affinity houses include the Native American (NAD) House, the Cutter-Shabazz Center, the Asian Studies Center and the Francophone House. In addition, the College sponsors affinity apartments on campus through the German, Italian and Jewish Studies departments.

At Foley House, another affinity house, residents manage the house and cook community dinners.

All decision-making is carried out by consensus, and residents are to adhere to a philosophy of "self-actualization through cooperative living, and the development of a more complete individual and citizen of civil society."

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