A house of their own

The residents of 522 22nd St. are happy to entertain visitors.

In a townhouse with wireless Internet, delivery service, housekeeping, a full kitchen and a backyard for grilling, there is a lot to show off. So, when 15 students showed up there last month to discuss and watch news coverage of the Palestinian election, everyone was comfortable and impressed.

The five townhouse residents did not pick phenomenal housing lottery numbers or shell out serious cash. The three seniors and two juniors are members of the International Proponents of Democracy Scholars’ Village townhouse. It is one of six Scholars’ Villages, a Community Living and Learning Center program that allows upperclassmen to design communities catered to their interests and receive a coveted Foggy Bottom townhouse on campus and University support for activities.

This year’s other Scholars’ Village townhouses are the Williams House, Cultural Embassy to the World, the Spirit House, Trivium and Quadrivium and the Spirit of Service house.

The quantity and quality of Scholar’s Village applications have increased from year to year, said James Kohl, director of the Residential Life and Education Office. The application process for one of these townhouses is competitive and includes a proposal presentation to CLLC staff.

Named after the first major black historian, the Williams House studies black history and culture in D.C.

The Cultural Embassy to the World House is “more intellectual and political” than some of the other houses, said senior Josh Vogel, a member of the house. With a townhouse as a home base, the group has been able to host several of their own events, including cultural dinners and discussions about political issues and current affairs. The five members also frequently attend Elliott School of International Affairs events.

Made up of some members of GW’s cheer team, the Spirit House is home to four students trying to build up school spirit and community.

In the Trivium and Quadrivium House (the Greek phrase refers to the seven elements of the liberal arts), members are exploring the major topics of a traditional liberal arts education: grammar, logic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music. The students involved recognize an overlap of all academic fields, and want to awaken students to “the magic” of general curriculum requirements.

Students who are passionate about community service have found a home in the Spirit of Service house. Members have participated in events such as D.C.’s annual AIDS walk, worked with local schools to tutor students and held seminars for students about service topics.

The international politics students of the International Proponents of Democracy Scholars’ Village said their mission is to “develop programming to study and influence the promotion of democracy abroad.”

For Matt Miller and Aaron Keller, members of the International Proponents of Democracy house, landing their group in a townhouse was a shock. The two were supposed to live in a City Hall triple, but were transferred at the last minute to the “nicer and cheaper” townhouse.

Vogel, Keller and Miller report that the University has been very responsive to fixing any problems with the house and providing other support. CLLC keeps in touch with their group, and in return the members keep them up to date about the activities they would like promoted. Each Scholars’ Village House is given $750 in funding for the year, Vogel said.

The best part for Keller, though, is being able to avoid standing in line at Package Services because of the delivery service to their townhouse.

“I have saved hours of frustration at Package Services,” he said.

CLLC received 17 applications for next year’s Scholars’ Village Townhouses. Applicants, who submitted their proposals by Feb. 10, were notified of their status last week. Next years’ themes include community service, environmental and renewable energy education, globalization, genealogical studies, athletics and the creation of a student-run music production company, Kohl said. All students must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher and a clear judicial history to be involved in any upperclassman house.

“This is premier GW housing, but it comes with responsibilities,” Vogel said.

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