|Stouffer Hall: 3702 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6026
Mayer Hall: 3817 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6101
House Office: 215.573.8473 • http://stouffer.house.upenn.edu
"Nothing comes closer to home"
What is Stouffer College House? Stouffer is waking up one fall morning and feeling that carpeting under your feet as you head off to the shower. On your way to the bathroom you check in with Dylan to find out about the freshmen study session tomorrow.
One shower later, you’re back at your room and you see that TJ wrote a message on your dry erase board. TJ’s your new friend and the only person you’ve ever met who has the exact same Netflix queue you do, though you’ve had plenty of Red Sox vs. Yankees arguments and debates about whether David Tennant or Matt Smith was the best Doctor.
You met TJ on Stouffer Outdoors just before school started. You were in a raft together as you zipped down the rapids on the Lehigh River. You must have thrown fifty buckets of water at other rafts, and you even drenched the House Dean. Not a bad way to start your college career.
You’re thinking you’ll try to get a suite together in Mayer next year – funny how Stouffer College House is actually two buildings. The idea of your own bathroom, kitchen, and common room is appealing, especially if TJ’s chili is as good as TJ claims. But you would miss the vibe in this weird maze that is Stouffer-Stouff… as everyone calls it.
Once you’re dressed, you check your email. As always, it’s a ton of messages from Stouffer- Announce, the House listserv that any resident can post to. Here are the highlights:
From: a GA from Mayer, a PhD student in robotics
Subject: Squirrel Watching today @ 1pm
Don't forget! Come to the Stouffer Patio at 1pm today with a hunger for adventure and delicious snacks. We will watch the squirrels and document their wild behaviors. There will be free binoculars. There may even be light sabers.
Are you supposed to battle the squirrels with the light sabers? How fierce are Philadelphia squirrels?
There are no undergrad RAs in Stouffer, just GAs (Graduate Associates). They’re studying everything from social work to dentistry to teaching and it feels like, between the 10 of them, they’ve done it all – Teach for America, the Peace Corps, pediatric nursing, you name it.
From: a senior in Mayer who also plays saxophone
with the Glee Club
Subject: The Steering Constitution Passes!
Hello Stouffer College House!
I am proud to announce that the new Steering Constitution has passed. Thank you to everyone who voted, and a special thanks to the Steering representatives who went out of their way to get the votes that we needed.
As a special thank you to everyone in Stouffer, we will be having celebratory cookies at Phil and Amy’s apartment this Wednesday at 10PM! I look forward to seeing you all there.
Good news. As far as you can tell, the new Constitution looks good. And you love Steering. You go every week to listen to the ideas the other residents have for trips, projects, and other spending proposals. You have a pretty good idea you think you’ll pitch next week. Stouffer is the only College House that allows residents that much say in how money is spent and you really like that.
“Celebratory cookies”? Pretty funny. Phil, the Faculty Director, and his wife Amy bake fresh chocolate chip cookies every Wednesday night and invite the whole Stouffer community in. Last week you stayed late talking with Phil – he’s a world-famous legal scholar and government corruption expert who travels around the world advising countries while winning undergraduate teaching awards – but you mostly talked about the graphic novels of Alan Moore. You were there until way after midnight. You probably ate too many cookies but you’ll have a chance to burn them off at the intramural kickball game today. You’re playing against another House team. Since Stouffer is the winningest house in the history of the College House Cup competition, serious pride is at stake.
Stouffer flies that House Cup banner very proudly. And the Cup itself is huge. Stouffer has five children under the age of five living here and you’re pretty sure they could all fit inside. They certainly tried at that Stouffer orientation event at the beginning of the year when all the local pizza places brought free samples and everyone voted on their favorite. That’ll be the place to provide pizza for all official Stouffer events this year. You liked a few of the other places, too – especially that one vegan place. Luckily you have all year to try out their full menus.
Oh, look, more email.
From: a senior on the Special Events Committee
Subject: Thanksgiving Dinner!
The annual Stouffer Thanksgiving dinner is coming up, and we would like your help! Please fill out the attached form if you are available to help cook. Everything will need to be cooked by 3 pm on Sunday, November 23rd, so it would be awesome if as many people signed up as possible.
In addition, if you have recipes you would like to share with us, please add them to the shared document I’m linking to here, along with what you need to make it. We will buy the supplies that you need, but if you add a recipe, please commit to cooking it! Recipes are due by 5PM on the 16th.
Oh, yeah, gotta get on that. Your family makes amazing cranberry chutney you’re eager to share with everyone. How awesome is this that so many residents come together to cook a Thanksgiving Dinner for all of Stouffer?
From: a first year student down the hall
Subject: Box Tape?
If anyone has box tape they could let me use, that would be awesome! I'd be willing to come pick it up or you could drop if off in front of 274F Stouffer.
Thanks so much! And sorry to bother.
Oh, yeah. You have some of that. You give Andy the tape, and you go see if TJ, Lin, and Carmen are ready for brunch at 1920 Commons. You won’t fill up too much, though. There’s a cookout on Stouffer Patio this afternoon. You love that patio, from the hammocks to the basketball hoops to those great Adirondack chairs.
After that, maybe you’ll just hang out in the lounge. Your upperclass Stouffer mentor will play the piano and two Stoufferites are planning a late night Settlers of Catan session.
Huh, you think, this is exactly what you were hoping college would be like. House life is just one part of the overall experience, but it’s fun, comfortable, friendly. Stouffer’s motto is "Nihil Domo Similius" — "Nothing comes closer to home." Sure, they borrowed that from the frozen food company, but still, it sounds about right. This isn't just your House. This is your Home.
You live in a House where everybody’s looking out for each other; where upperclassmen, grad students, and faculty are there to help you figure out Penn and how to get the most out of it; where your voice is valued. It’s a place where tradition is important, but anyone can make a mark. It’s a tight-knit community that always has room for one more. It’s a place where you can ask for the simple things, or the biggest favor and someone will be there to help. It’s a place to be you, and to find out just what that means.