President Rock Jones and Residential Life have recently approved the House of Black Culture to become a themed house, bringing pride to both current residents and alumni of the house.
As a themed house, the House of Black Culture (HBC) will no longer be required to apply for renewal, a process for all Small Living Units (SLUs). HBC will be ensured a permanent presence on campus.
HBC is currently a SLU with Heritage House status, meaning the house has functioned and contributed to the OWU community for an outstanding period of time. Senior Samantha DeJarnett, HBC moderator, said Heritage Houses are SLUs deemed by the university to have mission statements that are important to keep on campus both in the present and in the future.
The HBC’s mission statement focuses on creating a safe haven for all students on campus and promoting African American culture and awareness through programming and discussion.
“This is a very positive transition for the HBC and myself, and our members are extremely excited that the university sees our house as important enough to always have around,” DeJarnett said.
Dejarnett said the only other change to the HBC is that the house moderator’s title will be changed to Resident Assistant (RA).
Vernita Johnson (’95), a former HBC resident, said she was “pleasantly surprised” to hear of the house’s new status.
“I have never imagined OWU without the house,” Johnson said. “I’m surprised to hear the news because I never considered the possibility of OWU not having the house on campus.”
Johnson said she sees the HBC as an important living option because it was her “home away from home” and provides residents with a strong sense of connection to one another.
“My freshman year was kind of awful,” she said. “A lot of the white students had never been around people of color, and then when I came home from class, I felt I never had a break from teaching white people about being black,” she said.
Dan Sturkey (’84) said life was different during his years at OWU, and he appreciates the social progress that both the HBC and campus have made since he graduated.
Sturkey’s wife is also an HBC alum (’83). During their years at OWU, the house was not co-ed, and male and female residents took turns living in the house every other year.
“I think it’s great to see it co-ed,” he said. “You would never see diversity or co-eds in one building. Things have changed, and I don’t think that would have happened if OWU wasn’t so open and liberal in thought.”
Sturkey said he believes the HBC’s new title of a themed house is an honor because it exemplifies OWU’s true commitment to diversity.
“Looking back, there was a separation between blacks and whites on campus,” he said. “Now that has dissolved, but the house still has the capability to bring people together. I think it is a living example of a social evolution.”