Theme House Spotlight: the Community Engagement House

Kelsey ArbuckleMalicat ChouyoutiMiguel PortilloFrances Eliana PerozoEva OrtezTieta KeetleMalcolm BrownMesgana Solomon and Gil Horner: members of the Community Engagement House (COHO). Photo courtesy of the COHO’s facebook page.

Luke Gair, Executive Staff

Tucked in a corner of Sewanee’s campus, the Community Engagement House (CoHo) sits nestled behind Ayres Hall. It may not be physically centered on campus, but it certainly stands prominent and purposeful in its presence on the Domain.

Whether it be their annual “Porch Light” event, or the widely-known “Coffee and Conversation,” the CoHo strives to harbor a community in which every member feels able to contribute to the story of the University.

Co-director Tieta Keetle (C’18) believes the house is integral to the campus community, hoping that “the Community Engagement House can contribute to a culture that supports and encourages one another, and seeks opportunity to continue learning about each other…I hope that it can contribute spaces for discussion, and I hope it can contribute a pool of people that are committed beyond themselves.”

In a community where there is constantly new causes and outlets to channel into, Keetle additionally hopes “that it can contribute hands and ideas for projects, and great opportunity for many types of collaboration.”

An integral aspect of the house itself is community outreach and involvement, which includes providing a slew of campus events. Recently, they have hosted “Office/Restoration Hours for Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” which occurs twice a week in the month of April.

Keetle explained that the office/restoration hours are “meant to let people know that although our house is always open, we are guaranteeing that from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday for the month of April, there will be people there either hanging out, watching movies, drinking tea, doing art, etc. in case people want somewhere to go and relax. Sexual Assault Awareness Month can be a hard one for many people, [it] can be productive for others, and some don’t feel affected at all by the conversations we’re having.”

She was sure to emphasize that “whatever the case may be,” the house offers a safe space on campus for people to come and relax.

Keetle believes the Community Engagement House “would like to see levels of support between many areas of campus, and support between those on campus with neighboring communities.” In light of the recent rescinding of Charlie Rose’s honorary degree, it has proved plausible that through participation and outreach, a community can achieve goals, especially when united.

“The Community Engagement House has incredible opportunity to participate in and support efforts that bring people together over a world of topics, and not only would the Community Engagement House like to initiate or continue such efforts, but encourage a supportive environment to allow others to do so as well, whether that be between administration and students, within the student body, the university and those we neighbor, or even beyond.”