Imagine being a senior or a soon to be senior. You finally get to live in the senior apartments you’ve dreamed about since your freshman year. When April comes around, everyone starts strategizing and praying that they get that 6 p.m. time slot. While some students love the rush of the housing system, others find this process strenuous and a major headache.
According to Alex Drumm ‘20, a Cinema major from Boston, Massachusetts, when looking at sunny apartments, it seems that it is predominately ran by white fraternity boys or homogeneously white athletic teams who dominate the social scene at the sunnies. He explains “When I walk through the sunnies it looks like a sea of white.”
But wait… where are the students of color?
There has been speculation that students of color avoid living in the sunnies and many try to find any type of housing that will keep them as far away from the sunnies as possible. Some numbers from Housing show the following:
White students in Sunset community (Pratt, Brown, Myers and Good): 76.2%
Non-white students in Sunset community (Pratt, Brown, Myers and Good): 23.8%
White students in Brownstones (Hayes, Wright, Lower Elm and Upper Elm), Chamberlin, Taylor and Stone communities: 56.9%
Non-white students in Brownstones (Hayes, Wright, Lower Elm and Upper Elm), Chamberlin, Taylor and Stone communities: 43.1%
These are the numbers distributed out by Housing. After reaching out to housing for almost two months, these are the only numbers they were able to give us. While these numbers do not have much depth to them, they give us a little glimpse into a case that will need to be investigated deeper. We hope to obtain more substantial statistics with a follow-up article next semester.
To try to get a ethnographic view of these numbers. Senior of colors were interviewed.
Monae Thomas ‘18, a anthropology/sociology major from Chicago explained that she has been weary of the sunny apartments “ever since the racist incidents from my sophomore year of a fraternity not letting oppressed groups into their party. Incidents like this stick with you, and when it’s not addressed you will definitely never go back.”
The sunnies have been a dark place, according to Matthew Lemus ‘18, who said, “The name is ironic to me because I know many people of color who do not view those apartments as a bright or healthy environment to participate in.”
Problematic issues, such as, sexual assault, racism and homophobic comments have occured at the sunnies. These problems have been addressed before; a well-written personal experience about the sunnies was written in The Bullsheet last year, titled: A sunny day at Denison by Annie Fletcher ‘20, and received many responses (good and bad). She talks about going to the sunnies and having doors slammed in her face but also witnessing doors being slammed in international students faces. She believes this oppression or rejection derives from certain groups not resembling a typical drunk white girl, which is what she believes fraternities are seeking for their parties.
Ellari Hodges ‘18 a Biology major from Cleveland, Ohio said, “My roommates and I decided that we were definitely not living in the sunnies. So I’m happy we got a good timeslot, if we had received a bad time slot I would have strongly considered getting a single.”
So why hasn’t this problem been addressed? Is this all part of the student of colors’ imagination?
Two students who live in the sunnies, Norma Sance ‘18 and Becca Trask ‘18 had insight on this racial divide. Sance, an anthropology/sociology major from Chicago, Illinois believes people try to ignore the race problem: “the concept of ‘colorblindness’ that white America tries to push is why problems like these occur in party culture here at Denison.”
Trask, a biology major from West Carrollton City, Ohio who lives in Good hall, sees this racial divide and explains, “[As] a white female, I really can’t speak to this experience. However, I feel like the traditions of Denison (such as Greek life) are so embedded in how the social sphere is operated on campus that this is more the issue with the divide. Of course this is problematic. We all go to Denison, we all pay tuition whether we have different scholarships or not, we all take the classes– everyone is in this community and should feel safe. However, this racial divide is beyond senior apartments.”
Maybe it’s time for Denison to throw more outdoor parties as Becca Trask ‘18 has suggested. In fact, many Denison students have suggested this. A few months back Around The World took place on east quad and in that moment in time everyone was having fun and there were people who attended from different classes, ethnicities, sexual orientations and the list goes on.
There has also been talk among administration and students about party barns where students would host their big parties. This plan aims to keep parties away from dark enclosed places where doors can be locked and certain actions can go unseen.
While these suggestions promote inclusive environments, will they only temporarily solve the problem?
The sunnies are not so sunny, but how can we fix this?