New and Improved Theme Houses on Campus


The new Interfaith house and Music house greet Sewanee’s campus this fall; GSD works on increasing its organization’s visibility

Photo by Matt Hembree

By Luke Williamson

Contributing Writer

This year there are two new theme houses on campus: the Interfaith House and the Music House. Though the Gender and Sexual Diversity house is not new on campus, they have been busy revitalizing their house. Theme houses are a form of alternative housing for students similar to residence halls in some respects, but are designed to give students the opportunity to live with like minded individuals in pursuit of a common theme or idea.


Zahnib Kalsoom (C’20) was the woman with the vision for the Interfaith house, which is located between Johnson and Phi Fraternity on University Avenue. Lam Ngo (C’20), a resident in the Interfaith house, shares that its purpose is to be “a place where students with different religions, beliefs and faiths can live safely together. It creates a safe place where there is no discrimination or hatred towards certain belief/faith.” It’s for anyone who cares about “[raising] awareness and [celebrating] different religions and beliefs,” said Ngo.


Located “in two of the four brick duplexes on the hill with Hodgson, Emery (PKE), and Phillips,” the Music House was created to “bring together musicians and music enthusiasts alike,” said Fiona Charnow (C’20). Her freshman year, Charnow wanted to actualize her dream of starting a band, but was discouraged by the lack of a place where she could facilitate this.


“I decided to start this house because I recognized a general lack of space for musicians to gather,” Charnow explains. For her, creating a theme house was the perfect solution: it could become a place where musicians could go to practice or simply relax. “Having a Music House helps bring those musicians together so that music can be created, collaborated, and appreciated freely and easily,” she added.


Whether musician, music enthusiast, or student, the Music House plans on hosting multiple events throughout the year, all in an effort to make music more accessible on campus. “Music is meant to be enjoyed and should be easily accessible,” said Charnow. “I hope that the Music House can serve as that access for writing, playing, performing, sharing, and creating music.” Their various planned events include open mics, karaoke, fundraisers, and Sewanaroo.


Located in the Georgia townhouses, the GSD house is working on increasing its visibility on campus. Hannah Habit (C’19) and Hellen Wainaina (C’19), director and co-director of the GSD House, respectively, have been leading these efforts. “We have completed a number of projects in an effort to externally increase the House’s visibility and it’s projects on campus while internally restructuring the organization,” said Habit. Among their projects is the Rainbow Perspective: a Speaker and Lecturer series created to educate and bring awareness to some of the issues that the LGBTQ+ community face.


They have also been working on building their digital presence. “We are now in the process of trying to implement a website,” said Wainaina, adding that they hoped this would be a good foundation for their other News and Media outlets. Finally, the GSD House has been working towards restructuring the house’s inner workings; they have “cleared up internal organization in terms of clarifying officer positions and their related responsibilities.” Wainaina points to the University motto – EQB – to summarize the goal behind the GSD house: “at GSD we celebrate diversity and aspire to validate Ecce Quam Bonum for all.”