Trading places

Just a year after establishing Forbes House, Carnegie Mellon spent one million dollars last summer to gut and re-outfit a former fraternity house on Forbes Avenue. The result is the Global Studies House, a specialized living community for first-years interested in learning about the many different cultures at CMU. However, these two communities may be short-lived, as they will be giving up their current locations next year.
The 29 students that call the Global Studies House home are both American and international students of almost all ethnic heritages. In an effort to make
cultural connections and increase general awareness of different areas of the world, the Global Studies House hosts numerous discussion forums, group activities, and teleconferences.
The house has a particularly strong bond with the Carnegie Mellon University Qatar Campus. In addition to a recent teleconference with several Qatar students, the house has hosted Qatar faculty for discussion on Mideast policy.
Senior Andy Butler, Global Studies and Forbes House Community Advisor, says that because of the house?s growing reputation as a center of global thinking, many meetings are held here for more than just Global Studies residents. Campuswide meetings on Hispanic heritage, the Qatar campus, and study-abroad programs are just a few examples.
According to Butler, the main goal of the Global Studies House is to foster a sense of community among its first-year residents.
?There is an overwhelming sense of camaraderie between all the residents in the house,? says Butler. House resident Lisa Augustyniak agrees.
?You can leave your computer out and not be afraid someone will steal it,? says Augustyniak, a first-year chemistry major.
Global Studies, however, is not the only specialized first-year house on campus. Toward the back of the fraternity quad lies Forbes House, a living space set aside for emerging first-year interested in leadership and service. Forbes House engages in monthly service projects as a house, with very high levels of participation. The house sponsored a Relay for Life team this year.
?Because the residents of Forbes House chose to live here, they have a lot of enthusiasm and drive. They are very engaged in the community,? says Butler. In addition to the relations Forbes has with the Pittsburgh community, an equally important community is forming inside the house.
?You really have to try hard to be involved and get to know each other. You are forced to talk to people and have respect for them,? says resident Santiya Valerio.
Global Studies House and Forbes House each have one Resident Assistant and share a Community Advisor. Butler notes that opening up opportunities for first-years and helping them gain access to university resources, whether that means helping with research or going to the opera, is a large part of his staff?s job.
The houses, however, are most likely not going to become permanent fixtures in the CMU community. The Global Studies House will not exist next school year in its current location, and whether it will exist as a living community in any form has yet to be decided. Forbes House will most likely exist next school year, but Butler said that it will not be located in the house it currently resides.
Renee Camerlengo, Global Studies and Forbes House Housefellow, says she is very pleased with the concept of the two houses and would like to see them persist, but ?the locations are first and foremost committed next year to Greek chapter housing.?
?Darbi Roberts is working on a fifth-year scholar project to continue Forbes House, and members of Global Studies seem motivated to propose it as special interest housing for next year,? said Camerlengo.
Speculation in regards to which fraternities and sororities will be allowed to move into the vacated houses next year remains, as yet, speculation. Though Butler said that several sororities have expressed interest in moving onto the Greek Quad, only Kappa Alpha Theta currently resides there. No other group, fraternity or sorority, has been authorized to move into the quad so far.
Whether these first-year communities continue in their present houses or in other locations, Butler said, ?Specialized freshman housing needs to exist. Groups of freshmen make a huge impact on this campus.?