stories | Alumni, Students

Students and Alumni Reflect on What Makes the House System Great

February 3, 2014 | CHAD G. ABBOTT

Every aspect of a student’s experience at The King’s College is shaped by involvement in their houses. Houses are student-led and mission-driven communities that support, encourage, and develop the student body.

New Kingsians become members of one of ten houses, each named for an individual who exhibits characteristics worth emulating.

House names are chosen by students. At first glance, namesakes such as C.S. Lewis and Ronald Reagan quickly resonate with us when we think of certain periods of time, theological writings, and political parties. But these are not the only reasons why Kingsians associate themselves with these leaders.

Take a deeper look into the lives of our house namesakes and you will find ordinary people who lived in extraordinary times. They are not saints, but they are leaders in their spheres of influence. Some lived humble lives, and some stumbled along the way, but all lived with courage and conviction when they were called to serve.

The King’s College house system is a grand experiment in pairing people from every background to live life together. Our houses differ from other fraternities and sororities that function by judging members on merit.

“The house system functions so that its members are diversely preselected and welcomed unconditionally, with the hope that, through community, they might better not only themselves, but their school and world around them,” said Andrew Debter ‘13, House of Bonhoeffer.

Through their house, students have countless opportunities to build close relationships, join together to explore New York City, and grow spiritually and intellectually.

Every student leader takes on the work of an entrepreneur: financial planning and management, administrative duties, weekly meetings, planning and executing social gatherings—all with a small budget and a lot of sweat.

But leading a house is not all fun and games. It is a life-shaping experience for those called to serve.

“One essential thing I’ve learned through house leadership can be summed up in a Bonhoeffer quote: ‘He who loves his vision for the ideal community will destroy said community. He who loves his brothers first will create community.’ Having a vision is good, but it’s important to meet the members of the community on their own terms first. If you try to force your vision on them, it shows in your conduct and alienates the community and its leader from each other,” said Charlie Freeman ‘15, House of Bonhoeffer.

Charlie speaks from experience as Bonhoeffer’s Helmsman for the last school year. His knowledge is hard-won and his leadership experience helped make him the man he is today.

All housemates have a part in shaping the house culture. The House of Thatcher’s famous Bible study began years ago and still thrives today.

“We had the resources and encouragement to make these small group Bible studies happen—without the buy-in of the whole house they would not have worked,” said Lindsay Koehler, an alumna of the House of Thatcher.

Koehler’s housemates continue to hold her accountable, invest in her life, and are there when she needs them. “Our values speak to the core of who we are: we love fiercely and we move past being surface level acquaintances. We dig deep into the lives of one another. Sometimes it is messy, but the harmony we seek with one another has value far beyond the walls of The King’s College.”

Holly Hall Tate is now a successful Director of Business Development at Vanderbloemen Search Group in Houston, but she still has time for her friends in the House of Barton.

“The friendships I made in the House of Barton are the most life-changing friendships I’ve ever experienced. We didn’t just walk through college together, we’re walking through life together,” said Tate. “Two of my Barton sisters stood beside me on my wedding day.”

House competitions encourage students to work together as a team and grow together. “I found the competitions to be a really exciting part of my time at King’s. I think they were essential in unifying student life around a common event,” said Greg Baumann ‘13, House of Bonhoeffer.

The next house competition takes place on February 8. The House History Competition requires each house to research their history, specifically addressing the significant people, events and moments in the development of their culture. Then, Houses produce and deliver an inspirational and creative short film capturing that history.

Stay tuned to watch history videos from each of the ten houses at The King’s College.

In the heart of New York City, The King’s College is an accredited, Christian liberal arts college. Through the truths of Christianity and great works in politics, philosophy, and economics, we are educating the next generation of leaders for America and the world.