After nearly ten years as the Global Education (GE) House, the big, beige home on the corner of 28th St. and Norton Ave. is now a regular theme house, currently serving 11 men from the track and cross country team.
While the change brings mixed reactions from some students, Campus Life said it decided to discontinue the house’s global theme last Spring after considering a number of factors.
“The program itself had never been well-defined,” said director of Campus Life Corey Kopp. “And as a result, we’ve struggled to fill the house every year.”
Offering 15 beds, the house is the biggest theme house on campus. Unlike other theme houses, where four students gather and decide on a theme they are passionate about, Kopp said GE began with a designated theme and required interested students to get on board.
In addition, Kopp said Campus Life struggled to find room for students previously living in the two recently-demolished theme houses, Hillsboro and Loki.
With the Hillsboro women hoping to continue their theme and the men from the Valhalla House interested in GE, Campus Life decided it was most efficient to shuffle the women into Valhalla and the men into GE.
Kopp said the original concept for GE was to provide a transition environment for students who were returning from spending a year abroad. He said Campus Life thought it would be helpful to have a place where students could transition into American culture.
“It never really realized the way we hoped it would,” Kopp said.
Some students, however, feel the Global Education House had been an essential space for international students to gather.
“Augie is really proud of having a big international community and bringing in culture from around the world,” said senior Hatem Khalfaoui. “Augie goes to other countries to recruit people and they say, ‘Hey come to Sioux Falls, you are very welcome in Sioux Falls.’ But then for Augustana to not give them a space is not okay.”
Senior Neeshma Ramdhun, one of six residents living in GE last year, said it was difficult to fulfill the home’s theme due to the condition of the home when she first moved in.
“When we moved, the house was not in a good condition—it was filthy, dirty and it looked sad, so we requested Campus Life to clean it,” Ramdhun said. “By the time they painted the walls and changed the furniture, a lot of energy went into making GE look nice and liveable. So we didn’t do as much as we could have.”
However, Ramdhun said her and her roommates were still able to host the annual Diwali and Eid celebrations, which attracted roughly 35 people to their home.
Within the past ten years GE has been a regular gathering space for international students on the evenings and weekends, Ramdhun said.
Although the International Programs Office (IPO) is located on the east side of the house and supported its theme, IPO was never in charge of the Global Education House.
Instead, former director of international programs Donn Grinager said the Global Education house had always been a project of Campus Life.
“I don’t think of it as a diminishment of international programs or as a diminishment of Campus Life’s commitment to international programs. I think it just came up against this particular hard reality that they needed space,” Grinager said.
Both Khalfaoui and Ramdhun said that they would like to see another form of GE in the future, or at least a designated communal space for international students.
“Maybe one solution would be to have a smaller space or more promotion for GE,” said Khalfaoui. “If I didn’t know the people who lived in GE, I wouldn’t have known GE existed.”
For now, conversation about a replacement for GE has yet to begin.
“I don’t think the problem is the house itself,” said Khalfoui. “I think it’s the principle of having a space for international students.”
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