By Caroline Nixon
Currently occupying the former Music House, the STEM House sits adjacent to the Phi Kappa Epsilon (PKE) House and Hodgson Hall. It is the house’s first year on campus and co-directors Phillip Berger (C’19) and Lillian McCrary (C’20) are excited to propel STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, outside of the classroom and onto campus life.
Berger, McCrary, and members Hailey Ung (C’19), Lam Ngo (C’20), Mark Schieber (C’19), and Charles Stehno (C’20) all represent different areas of STEM and thus want the house’s events to reflect their diversity. Ung and Ngo hope to do events on biodiversity while Berger and McCrary want to do events on the chemistry of cooking.
The aim for these events is to make STEM as accessible as possible. “We want people to know that STEM is not this big scary thing you can’t do,” McCrary said. Being an English major herself, she wants the house to represent those on campus who have an interest in science but have majors elsewhere. On a campus where the intersection of the liberal arts and liberal sciences is few and far between, the STEM House aspires to provide that connection.
Where McCrary looks to students outside of STEM, Berger looks inward. On the development of the house, Berger says that there was no real “local gathering point” on campus for STEM majors. STEM majors have their own study areas, like the Physics Study Room, but nothing to unite them apart from passing each other in Woods Lab. Berger hopes to make the house a space outside of the fraternity sphere for STEM students and a gathering spot.
Integration of STEM onto Sewanee’s campus is the STEM House’s main goal, but they hope to expand into the Sewanee community as well.
“We want to reach the younger crowd by going to the [Sewanee] elementary school and teaching them science through making things like bottle rockets and potato guns,” Berger said. He believes that community service is an integral part to organizations like theme houses.
The STEM House’s focus on uniting both the campus and the community through science allows a lot of promise for the fledgling house and will force students to re-think the power theme houses can wield.