Living Learning Houses: A Home Away from Home

For students who want to live on campus and are seeking an alternative to a residence hall, K has options. Living Learning Houses allow you to live in one of eight homes on campus with a handful of friends or people who share a common interest.

Two students in a bedroom of the Living Learning HousesThree students in a Living Learning Houses KitchenSpeaking of kitchens, Living Learning Houses are also great for people who enjoy cooking their own meals. Dining Services offers a variety of meal plans that can accommodate students who live in Living Learning Houses. This means you are still able to visit the dining hall while also having the opportunity to make your own culinary creations.

Six Students and a Giant Inflatable Unicorn in a Living Learning Houses Living RoomSix students outside at the Living Learning HousesBack when I was a young sophomore, I lived in a Living Learning House themed “Film House”. We all had an interest in movies and wanted to be able to host events that would allow us to explore this interest. During the first quarter I was elected house liaison, which meant I attended weekly meetings with the Living Learning House residential advisor and the other liaisons from the other Living Learning Houses. This was a great opportunity to gain leadership skills early on in college.

This year, there is a whole new crop of Living Learning Houses, one of them themed “Intercultural Unity House”, the members of which include international students and domestic students with heritage from around the world. One of the residents, Mansi Dahal ’20, reflects on what her experience has been. “Living Learning Houses are not just about learning about each other’s lives but living them together. I love how I have grown together with my housemates and seen different perspectives to tackle the same problem.”

Mansi brings up a great point about how living together with six to eight other people can really be a great learning experience in terms of understanding what you need from a living space and how you interact and solve housing conflicts with other people. “Celebrating each other’s cultures in this new place makes me feel like I have formed a new family here,” Mansi explains. “I feel like this has become my home away from home.”

Here at K we are proud to offer housing options. Living Learning Houses really are a wonderful option for students who are looking to build a small, close-knit community. Who knows, you might just find your home away from home.

Savannah Kinchen ‘18

Nine Reasons Why Spring Quarter is the Best Quarter

Springtime means the academic year is almost over. The weather is warmer, flowers are blooming and at Kalamazoo College spring events are popping up all over campus. In the fall, all the student organizations are acquiring new members and making plans for the rest of the year. Then winter term hits and everyone retreats indoors to the comfort of a fireplace. But then, the frost melts, the sunshine peaks down, and students flood the quad for some much needed fresh air. Spring is an explosion of events, both on K’s campus and in the broader Kalamazoo Community. Check out some of the highlights!

  1. World Night

One of the annual spring events is hosted by the International Student Organization (ISO). World Night is an avenue for students to express their culture for the K community to celebrate. A mixture of song, dance, poetry, food, games, and much more, World Night is always a big event on campus and one that everyone looks forward to in the spring.

  1. Frelon

Frelon is a student-run dance company that is one of the largest and most popular spring events on K’s campus, and their annual show is in, you guessed it, spring quarter! Student choreographers and their selected dancers prepare for weeks during winter quarter to be able to perform for the campus community during spring quarter. There is a mixture of experience levels and anyone who wants to can be a part of a dance. Frelon is such a fun way to get involved with a student organization and try out dance in a supportive environment. As a veteran Frelon attendee, I can vouch that it is a terrific show every time!

  1. Monkapult

During winter quarter getting out of your pajamas and trudging through the cold to go to a campus event can sometimes feel like an insurmountable task (especially when the sun sets at five o’clock sharp). But in the springtime, going to late night campus events feels like a fun way to burn off some spring fever. And there’s nothing that burns spring fever (or calories) like going to Monkapult – the campus improv group. It’s always fun to see your friends (or strangers, for that matter) make fools of themselves for comedic purposes, and Monkapult always delivers on that front!

Fun fact: Steven Yeun K’05 (Actor on AMC’s horror drama television series The Walking Dead) and Jordan Klepper K’01 (correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) both got their acting start at K through Monkapult!

  1. SIP Symposiums

On a slightly more academic (but still fun!) note, the springtime means something a little different for seniors – it’s SIP Season, baby. The Senior Individualized Project (or SIP, as the kids call it) is a graduation requirement for every K student that can range from writing an original play or conducting your own lab experiment. Then, throughout spring quarter seniors present their final products at various departmental SIP Symposiums. This is an awesome way to see what kind of work your fellow students are doing and if you’re an underclassman, it’s a great way to get some inspiration for your own SIP. Plus, there are usually always snacks and who doesn’t love free food?!

  1. Burgers and Blues

Nothing says springtime like barbecued food, music, and sunshine. Every tenth week of spring quarter the Kalamazoo College Jazz Band plays some tunes out on the quad while students, faculty, and staff grab food off the grill. This event is a great place for everyone to enjoy the outdoors, some music, classic barbecue food, and of course, the quarter almost being over!

  1. Farmers Market

The Kalamazoo Farmers Market hosts dozens of farmers and local vendors at a weekly market starting in May and going through October. The market is a twenty-minute walk from campus, or a ten-minute bike ride, and boasts a lively scene with food trucks, live music, picnic tables, and of course, beautiful locally grown produce!

  1. Pride Ball

Every spring the Kaleidoscope student organization hosts Pride Ball, an event designed for attendees to dress and express themselves however they please! Kaleidoscope is one of the LGBTQIA+ groups on campus, and Pride Ball is their largest annual event. Complete with food, dancing, photo booths, contests, and performances, Pride Ball is always a fun time for all.

  1. DOGL

Every school has its traditions. Day of Gracious Living, or DOGL, is one of K’s oldest and most cherished. The night before DOGL an email is sent out by the president of the college announcing that classes will be canceled for the following day. What ensues is NOGL (Night of Gracious Living), a night of food and fun on the quad to kick off the festivities. The following day the school sends shuttles out to South Haven for K students to enjoy a day at the beach! The speculation leading up to DOGL about which day it will be is surely a pain in all professors’ necks but for students is practically half the fun.

  1. Cultural Awareness Troupe

The Black Student Organization (BSO) puts on one of its largest annual spring events, Cultural Awareness Troupe or CAT. This event gives students of color a stage (literally) to express themselves through poetry, song, dance, and even film. There’s also a dance competition and local food vendors during intermission! Some of the most stunning and powerful performances that I’ve witnessed during my time at K were during CAT performances – this is definitely a springtime favorite!

If this hasn’t convinced you that springtime at K is loaded with fun events, I don’t know what will! You can rest assured that every weekend will have at least one entertaining ongoing for you to attend. And with a few weeks left of the quarter, I’ll be sure to take advantage of all the fun!

Savannah Kinchen ‘18

More (Friends) in Four. More (Friends) in a Lifetime.

Here I am at the end of my sophomore year feeling sentimental because three of my closest friends here on campus are graduating soon. This may seem like something that is completely irrelevant to some but I think that this particular situation speaks to how the dynamics at Kalamazoo College work in terms of creating friendships and relationships, and maintaining those connections. During my first year here at K, my friend group primarily consisted of other first year students due to participating in LandSea, orientation week, First Year Seminars, and living in one of the all-First-Year dorms. This wasn’t a bad thing by any means. I was very comfortable within my group of friends and was glad I had a stable and strong group of individuals that made my transition from high school to college seem so smooth and comfortable. However, I’ve been able to connect with more people this year for various reasons.

Being a sophomore is very different from being a first year student, and I’m sure that is not a surprise to anyone reading this. When you’re a sophomore you have a year of college experience and have become familiar and more comfortable with the college environment. Yet here at K, the sophomore experience is a little different since you and the seniors essentially run the school. Due to a new wave of first year students and practically all the juniors being on study abroad, student organizations and events typically come down to the responsibility of the sophomores and seniors. This dynamic serves as a catalyst for communication and connection between the two different classes. I have been lucky enough to really get to know seniors in the student organizations and classes I am in because of this dynamic.

Specifically, I have gained three senior friends that I am so grateful to have gotten to know. The three of them have helped guide me through sophomore year (which can be overwhelming because of the responsibility you now have). Through them, I have gained more confidence in certain areas of my life (such as writing and leading) and have been reassured that I don’t have to have everything figured out. One is a Psychology major that will go to medical school, one is an English major who has actually graduated early and will pursue her MFA at a graduate school in northern Michigan in the fall, and the other is an English major who will attend a publishing program at the University of Oxford in England from September to December. The three of them through their own experiences, challenges, and triumphs have taught me that even though their post-grad plans sound so sure and concrete, it took time and effort for them to fall into place. I am beyond thankful that I have had the three of them to serve as friends, mentors, and supporters. That’s the thing about this weird dynamic here at K, it can expose you to some of the most influential people, and I hope one day I will pass on all that they have given to me.

Karina Pantoja ‘20

K Students take on the Civil Liberties & Public Policy (CLPP) Conference

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity of traveling with a group of students from K to the annual Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) Conference in Massachusetts. CLPP is a yearly event that is dedicated to creating a space for individuals to come together and discuss reproductive justice– its history, the work that has been done, the work currently being done, and what is yet to come. The conference lasted from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, and hosted a variety of workshops to attend with other events such as an opportunity to network and panels made up of activists explaining their work and organizations.

The schedule of the conference was as followed: checking in on Friday afternoon, attending a workshop, dinner, and then an abortion speak out (this is where anyone who has ever had an abortion is able to share as much or as little about their experience in a safe space). Following the speak out was the screening of the movie, Margaritas with a Straw, chosen for its representation of disabled folks and LGBTQ folks within the film. On Saturday there was an open plenary to start the day where activists from different organizations said a few words about their work or organization. This was followed by a quick lunch and then the opportunity to attend three workshops. Following the workshops was dinner with the opportunity to network with other individuals at the conference. Later that night there was an 80s themed dance party for everyone at the conference. On the last day, Sunday, we had the chance to attend one more workshop before attending the closing plenary, which was a panel consisting of four activists who talked about their work.

One of my favorite parts of the conference was the closing plenary because the theme of the panel was how one can (and why one should) keep joy, liberation, and self-care at the front of their activism. All the speakers on the panel discussed how important it is to find time for self-care and to participate in the activities that make you happy. Most activists are “burnt out” by their late 20s which can mostly be attributed to the fact that many individuals keep themselves so busy and immersed in their work that they can forget to take a break, or don’t take a break for fear that it can be seen as being “weak” or “lazy” or “not as involved” compared to other activists. However, the panelists on Sunday said that self-care has only made their activism stronger and has made them feel more proud of the work they do, whether it be working to help mothers end sustenance abuse or helping women of color gain better access to education.

As someone who participates in small steps of activism and who would like to keep activism as an aspect and activity within their lives, it’s comforting to know that that doesn’t mean I should ever stop taking care of myself in order to help others. There is time and space to make sure that you are being taken care of while also improving the lives of others. No one can reach full liberation if we, as the activists, are allowing ourselves to suffer under the restraints of ourselves.

-Karina Pantoja ’20

The 2018 Career Summit: Past Hornets Return to the Hive for a Impactful Weekend of Professional Development

Springtime brings many joys here in Kalamazoo, Michigan – budding flowers, sunshine, and the long-anticipated arrival of Oberon beer from Bell’s Brewery (if you’re of age, of course!), but it is also that time of year on K’s campus when seniors begin searching for that ideal post-grad job and younger students hope to secure a summer internship. Regardless of what stage of college you are in, thinking about careers and career-building can feel daunting. There’s a lot to consider – resumes, networking, interviews, oh my! The Center for Career and Professional Development, or the CCPD, is always a resource on campus for anyone who needs their cover letters looked at or really any career assistance. But more recently the CCPD has begun facilitating a weekend-long career-building extravaganza for students to build resources and confidence when it comes to all things professional.

Conceived and sponsored by Brad O’Neill ’93, former senior vice president of SurveyMonkey and CEO and co-founder of a new startup, Depot Global Inc., the Career Summit took place this year on April 6th and 7th, bringing in Silicon Valley executives, freelance photographers, nonprofit leaders, and more. This was the second year that K hosted the Career Summit, which provides students with an opportunity to network with professionals from various fields. The weekend consisted of many panels, networking receptions, lunches, dinners, and breakout sessions.

While the majority of the Career Summit speakers were owners of startups and businesses, students outside of the business major still found the event useful. “The conversations I had at the Career Summit pushed me to consider a wider range of career paths than my major,” says Claire Howland ’18, Biology major. “And [the Career Summit] reminded me of the versatility of a liberal arts education.”

The topic of the opening Friday night panel was non-linear career paths. Panelists shared their stories of twisting and turning paths that led them to their current job. They emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind and always listening to what interests you, even if it doesn’t fit your preconceived notion of what your career might look like.

“I think it was a great reminder that the K Community doesn’t go away when you graduate,” Claire continued. “The Summit made it clear to me that there is a vast network of alumni who are so generous with their time and so eager to help fellow Hornets succeed.”

Each of the twelve professionals who spoke at the Career Summit were so excited to talk to current K students; connecting them to resources and providing general career advice. They dedicated two days of their time and energy (some of them flying from the other side of the country!) purely out of a desire to help K students succeed. We can all rest assured that whatever the big scary world of career-building may bring, a robust network of alumni will always be there to support their fellow Hornets.

-Savannah Kinchen ‘18

Ten Ways to Get Through Tenth Week

It’s no secret that Kalamazoo College is academically rigorous. We may only take three classes a quarter, but all of the material that would normally be spread out across a 15-week semester is packed into only ten weeks. Luckily, there are plenty of resources on campus and off campus to help you through the tumult of finishing off the quarter.

  1. The Cavern

The Cavern is a space located underneath Stetson Chapel that has an assortment of comforts for students looking to take a break from the commotion of tenth week. Whether you need a cookie, tea, or merely a soft couch to take a nap on, the Cavern has it all. There is also no WiFi in this underground sanctuary, so if you are feeling like you just need to disconnect, this is a great place to gain some uninterrupted rest and relaxation.

  1. Exam Week Extravaganza

The Saturday night before exam week the cafeteria hosts what is called “Exam Week Extravaganza”. This event, put on by our Office of Student Involvement, has food, drink, and activities to provide students with entertainment and fuel they need to push through the final few days of the quarter. Students can come here for some food and fun – and one year there was even a mechanical bull!

  1. The A Cappella Concert

The weekend before finals week the A Cappella groups at K host their end of quarter concert. We have four a Cappella groups here on campus, and on Friday and Saturday night they perform the songs they’ve been practicing all quarter. This event is a campus favorite and provides students with a respite from studying to support their peers and hear some great music.

  1. Puppies on the Quad

The Office of Student Involvement here at K knows that tenth week is a stressful time for students. Each quarter they host some form of de-stress event during tenth week so that students can take a break from their studies. While their tenth week programming varies throughout the years, my personal favorite is when they partner with local animal shelters and bring in puppies for students to interact with. There is nothing better to energize you than cuddling a pup!

  1. The Lillian Anderson Arboretum

Sometimes, on-campus stress relievers just aren’t enough, and I need to get off campus in order to really relax. One great resource that is owned by the college is the Lillian Anderson Arboretum – a nature preserve about a ten minute drive from campus where students can reconnect with nature. It’s so easy to get caught up in the chaos and expectations of the end of the quarter, so having a peaceful afternoon on a nature trail is definitely one way to ease the tension of tenth week.

  1. Water Street Coffee Co.

There are several other off-campus locations in addition to the Arboretum that can help students survive their final week of the quarter. The city of Kalamazoo is full of funky little coffee shops such as Water Street Coffee Co., Black Owl Café, Fourth Coast Café and Bakery, and more. All of these locations are within walking distance from campus and can provide a way for students to get off campus.

  1. The Book Club

While taking breaks for self-care is definitely an important part of managing tenth week, sometimes the only way to get through is to hunker down and get to work. When this is the case, the Book Club – our campus coffee shop – can help. Located right on the first floor of the library, the Book Club offers brewed coffee, specialty beverages, and assorted food items. This is a great place to get the fuel you need to power through those tough assignments.

  1. The Library

Speaking of which, the library is also a great resource for students who need a quiet place to focus on their work. Our library has three floors, and as you ascend, it gets quieter. If you need to have absolute silence in order to work, you can find a private study cubby on the third floor to dive in deep with your work. If you work better in a more social environment with background noise, the first floor is the place for you. On the second floor we have the reading room – a gorgeous open space with two fireplaces, comfy arm chairs, and tall glass windows so you can soak in the sunlight while you study.

  1. The Counseling Center

Sometimes, the stress of tenth week can just be too much. When that happens, students can make an appointment with a trained, licensed professional at our student Counseling Center. This resource is completely free for any K College student, and appointments can be arranged within 24 hours of initial contact. This is an excellent resource for students who need that extra bit of support to navigate stressful times.

  1. The Fitness and Wellness Center

Self-care looks different for everyone. For those whose self-care looks like getting their body moving, the Fitness and Wellness Center is a great resource. This newly constructed building has state-of-the-art machinery that is available for free for all students and faculty. There are also squash and tennis quarts, yoga and dance studios, and a weight lifting area. Whatever exercise therapy you may need, the Fitness and Wellness center is the place to go.

Finals week is a stressful time for students at any college or university. Kalamazoo College cares about the well-being of its students and so the resources above and many others are here to ensure that everyone can navigate this intense time of the quarter. With tenth week quickly approaching, I’ll be sure to keep this list in mind!

Savannah Kinchen ‘18

Going in Blind – The Roommate Search

When I was coming to K for my first year, I went into the roommate search blind. I was the only one from my high school coming to K, so I couldn’t simply live with a friend from high school. I decided to do what a lot of incoming First Years do– register for housing and hope for the best. Even though I was no stranger to having to share a space with someone, as I had already shared a room with my sister for a majority of my life, I was still nervous. What if my roommate (or roommates) were messy? What if they always wanted to blast music and never respect some quiet time for studying and homework? Or what if we just really didn’t get along? I was pretty anxious about the whole process, especially when all I could do was wait for the email with my roommate’s name and information.

I can’t lie and say that when that email finally came my worrying ceased. I think I actually became more worried. I now had the name and face of who’d I’d be living with for my first year at K, but I didn’t know what living with them would be like. I decided to reach out to my future roommate and get some basic introductions out of the way (this is something I highly recommend doing!). Even if you just talk a few times on social media or text, you can get a better sense of who your roommate might be as a person. Also, if you introduce yourselves and try to strike up a conversation in advance, it won’t be so awkward on move-in day as you two will already know a little bit about each other.

In terms of actually living with another person, it can definitely be a tricky thing. Sometimes people just click with their roommate or can adjust very easily to a new environment with new people. However, it’s definitely okay if you don’t. My roommate turned out to be super nice, very low-maintenance, and not messy at all. However, we still had to get used to each other’s presence and habits. No matter what rate you go in adjusting to living with someone, I think the best way to handle the change is to keep an open-mind. My roommate and I made sure to keep an open line of communication and not jump to conclusions over things we didn’t necessarily like or understand. For example, if your roommate is supposed to take out the trash and you come back and see it’s still there, it’s better to ask or just casually mention it to them without assuming they’re lazy or left it for you to do. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you just talk and give each other the benefit of the doubt, for both the smaller and bigger things.

All in all, my number one advice to you is to trust the roommate process. once you receive your roommate assignment, remember that you both are experiencing a new place and new people together. Be sure to communicate and be understanding with one another, it can go a long way and be the first steps in creating a lasting friendship.

Karina Pantoja ’20

Make Your Way to K

Here’s the thing, at this point in the college process, you are deciding where you’re going to end up for the next four years of your life. The next four years – it sounds scary and almost like a decision too big for an seventeen or eighteen year old, but let me tell you this, you’re going to end up exactly where you need to. However, while you’re calculating the distance from home or trying to figure out what school colors you’d look better in, you should read this list of 10 reasons why you should make your way to K:

1. Our entire campus lies in (barely) a mile-long radius. It will literally, at most, take you five
minutes to walk from one end of the campus to another. Do you know how great that is in the winter?

2. We have free food at every. single. event. I’m serious, we have so much food to offer you!

3. Downtown Kalamazoo is only a short walk away. There’s everything from a movie theater to restaurants to a museum and stores just a few minutes away!

4. We have the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership (also known as the best building on campus). You have the ability to get involved and attend various events with topics that range from Native American representation throughout history to resistance through art.

5. Jorge Gonzalez is the most wonderful, caring, and genuine man you might ever meet and he is also the President of the College (this is a fact). Come for Jorge, he’d love you!

6. We’re on a trimester system (three 10-week terms), which means we start school later (mid-September) and you get a six-week winter break (end of November until the second week of January) – it’s what you need, trust me.

7. The average class size at K is 13. Our small class sizes mean you get to make valuable connections with your professors, which comes in handy for recommendations and networking in the future.

8. STUDY ABROAD. I mean, let’s be real here, what schools allows you to study abroad for a full academic year and still graduate on time? (Hint: Kalamazoo College does.)

9. By the time you’re a sophomore, you have the opportunity to hold various leadership positions within student organizations. Typically, you wouldn’t serve on an executive board of a club or organization at a bigger university until your junior or senior year, but here at K, you can start as early as the end of your first year so you can go into your sophomore year holding certain positions.

10. You will literally get more in your four years here at K – from career development to study abroad to independent research, your work throughout your time here at K will put you on track to obtain more in a lifetime.

Now there you have it, ten reasons (although there are so many more) on why YOU should make your way to K. We hope to see you soon!

Karina Pantoja ’20

Monte Carlo: A Cherished Tradition

Five students dressed up for Monte Carlo
Savannah (far right) with her friends before heading off to this year’s Monte Carlo

Every college has that one event on campus that is everyone’s favorite. At K, that event is Monte Carlo. For one night during winter quarter, the Hicks Student Center is transformed into a multi-floor casino. Students, faculty, and staff arrive in their most glamorous attire to spend the night playing cards, eating delicious food, and taking pictures. The tradition dates back to the 1970s, making it something that both current students and alumni can share.

What is special about Monte Carlo, and all of the events hosted by OSI, is that it is largely planned and implemented by K students. “OSI set up a Monte Carlo Committee comprising of students from different class years and varying backgrounds,” Riya explains. “They were tasked with advising us on everything related to the event, even the minutest of all details, like what shade of white or yellow we should use for the lights.”  This committee met twice a week for several weeks leading up to the event to make sure that everything would be ready for the big night.

Four women in a photo booth photo
Photo booth pictures from Monte Carlo are a must!

One of the tasks for this committee was to recruit faculty volunteers. As is tradition, faculty members serve as dealers for the Craps, Blackjack, and Poker tables. “It’s fun to interact with your professors in a more personal way outside of the classroom setting,” Karina Pantoja ’20 comments. President of the College, Dr. Jorge Gonzalez, not only attends the event but has become quite a skillful Craps dealer over the past two years.

As a senior who has attended four Monte Carlos over the years, I can safely say that this is the most highly anticipated event of K’s academic year. In the weeks leading up to the event there is a buzz around campus as students ask each other about what dress they are going to wear and wonder about what food will be served. I am a personal fan of the spinach artichoke dip and chocolate fountain – and this year there was even sushi!

While the glamor and excitement are certainly part of the draw, the real value of this event lies in the community aspect of it. “It’s always fun to see everyone dressed up and enjoying a K tradition!” Elyse Tuennerman ’18 says. In a campus climate that deeply values academic success, it is refreshing to have a fun and fabulous event that everyone can enjoy together.

Savannah Kinchen ‘18