What is a community? Technically, it is nothing more than a group of people living in the same place. Certainly, it would be hard to deny that everyone here at Franciscan lives in a community. However, what is a sense of community? I would argue that it is the feeling of being welcomed, wanted and invited even when you are new or unfamiliar to everyone else.
It is vital for the existence of households that this sense of community exists from within; otherwise there would be no brotherhood or sisterhood to hold them together. However, it is also vital for Franciscan as a whole to form a greater community founded upon the households that bring it together. The latter is lacking.
I know a man who went here for undergrad in the 90s who told me stories of how households used to interact with the community. When he was a freshman, the household members on his wing would regularly go around and ask random men if they would like to do something with them, whether it was playing board games, watching sports or joining their commitments. He always remarked on the community at Franciscan, citing events like this which always pertained to household involvement. I cannot say that I have experienced any events similar to this in the three years I have lived in the dorms.
When I was a freshman, I did a lot of research into households during my spring semester, hoping to join one. Other than a few that I had previously known, I only found out what households existed through the list on Franciscan’s website and having to go out and search for common rooms.
Being honest, it is a shoddy way of finding out about households — especially since the online list has not been updated in two years and does not feature commitment schedules — and if someone had merely approached me and invited me personally or somehow proved that they were going to be welcoming, I would have visited them. Sadly, this only happened twice, notably in conversations that I had initiated, as compared to the 12 households that I had visited of my own volition.
As we all know, household life, due to any number of reasons, is not for everyone. However, households need to contribute to the Franciscan community beyond simply hosting fundraisers and dances. If ignoring the household’s internal community is wrong, then surely ignoring its external community is equally wrong.
The recent article has caused waves on campus, but the households should not take it as an attack, rather a chance to grow. The recent Resident Life survey asked how much you agree with the following points: “I recognize that community living may require sacrifices on my part” and “I believe that sacrificing some of my personal preferences for the good of the community is important.” So, households, I call you to break out of the complacency of your group and reach out to the community in a small way every day. You are the pillars that assist and influence the greater social life at Franciscan, which cannot be allowed to crumble.