I want to express enormous gratitude to the 40 + of you who came out to advocate for the Grove House at our committee meeting on Friday. It means the world to me to see this living room bursting with people building community in this amazing old house, and I am grateful to have sat elbow-to-elbow with you on these creaking wooden floors on so many occasions this semester – from our packed Story Slams to our birthday celebration to Friday’s meeting. Many have recently expressed that the Grove House represents to them something constant and even idealistic about Pitzer, something that speaks to its past; the Grove House grounds us in Pitzer history in a way no other structure on campus does. With your tremendous spirit and enthusiasm, the Grove House is finding its voice and reclaiming its identities after what I gather has been a long period of silence.At our meeting, Brian commented that generations of Pitzer students have fought to bring, keep, and care for the house here, and that we are honored to carry on that tradition; I couldn’t have put it more beautifully. This meeting clarified for me something that I have been sensing for a while – that at this moment in Pitzer’s history, the student body needs to love and protect and voice for the Grove House now as much as ever. While I don’t see the Grove House as is in danger of falling into dust – I think that the school, administration, and community recognize its symbolic value and would not let that happen – there is the physical reality of decay: doors falling off their hinges, virtually every window being broken. As Chris Brunelle affirmed at our meeting, some of this is finally being attended to and that is very encouraging; we are very grateful. But the Restoration Fund is minimal considering the cost of necessary repairs, it is not being added to, and not being included in fundraising campaigns. After she missed our meeting, a small number of us were squeezed into President Trombley’s schedule on Friday where we expressed these and other concerns to her. We’ve been assured that this will change, that the office of advancement is going to collaborate with students and put attention toward raising funds to care for the Grove House, and that a Steering Committee with spaces for student representatives is being formed to create a 5-year plan for repairs and restoration. While I am inexpressibly disappointed that the President was unable to witness the amount of support students showed at the meeting, I think the good that’s come out of this is that it has allowed us to put a new kind of pressure on the administration. We’ve gotten their attention and have made clear that students are aware of and frustrated by the current situation, as well as passionate about being included and respected in bringing the Grove House into Pitzer’s future.Funding and restoration are, in some ways, concrete and easy to use as access points into conversations with each other and with the administration about which, how, and why particular spaces are valued on our campus. That being said, I think what is even more so at stake than the donations and the windows and the paint, is the identity and student voice of this space. I expressed to President Trombley that I feel the student voice in conversations about the Grove House has not been taken seriously in the past and that I hope this will change, that we will see follow-through and that we can build a stronger and more respectful relationship. I think that must be hard to hear, as a very busy person trying to do her difficult job in the best way she can, and I am genuinely grateful to have been heard. So now we’re moving onto a much more visible and audible platform on which to speak, which brings me to a very big question: What do we want to say?Now now, I know most of us are eager to say that we care about the Grove House, of course! But what does that mean to us? What do we mean when we say we care about student-spaces, community spaces? What are those to us? What is this now and what do we want to shape this space into? What are our intentions and our hopes for it – both in preserving and honoring what it has been, and revising and improving what it is now? What do we need to consider? How do we want to do this?
This is such an important space and such a critical time to be a part of it. I realize that we’re nearing finals, that thoughts of the term paper you finally have to start on let alone ADDITIONAL commitments are pretty nauseating. It’s okay, you don’t have to do anything right this second. But please, consider whether this is something you’d like to be more involved with next semester. Perhaps reflect on these questions over the break. The Grove House Committee needs to be as strong as possible not only in order to have student influence on the Steering Committee and in the house’s future, but for our moment as well. For so many reasons, the Grove House is an incredible venue for us, we have the opportunity to create out of this space the kind of communities that we want and need. What does that mean to you?
So much love,
haley and The House