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“When I say I live in Du Bois, the conversation always seems to take a very sharp turn,” College sophomore Kelly Kwakye said. “You start talking about Du Bois and people start talking about black students.” This sentiment is not unique. Every conversation I had about W.E.B. Du Bois College House in support of this column turned to “the black house” perception without prompt.

Born into controversy, Du Bois’ original purpose was to help black students succeed at Penn on the dusk of the Civil Rights Movement. Although, according to student accounts, the house initially was predominantly black, Du Bois’ current black population is exaggerated. When I went to the Housing Assignments Office in Stouffer Commons, I was refused statistics on the racial breakdown of the houses and overheard someone saying, “It is none of their business.” But based on my experience as a resident, I would say the house does have significant white, Asian and Latino populations.

Despite the perception, it appears black students are moving out of Du Bois. But Du Bois offers a unique living experience other houses cannot rival, and the benefits of living there outweigh the drawbacks.

From cheaper living to better facilities to less socially intrusive locations, there are a range of factors that explain the exodus from Du Bois. “Some people cannot handle living here, whether it be the price or the amenities,” former Du Bois House Council President and Wharton senior D’Andre Carr said. “Many also think other residents are going to be involved in their lives, when in fact, nobody is really checking for you.”

The most popular reason given for moving out or staying away is Patricia Williams, Du Bois’ house dean, affectionately known as “Ms. Trish.” She is notorious for her omnipresence, her non-urgent-yet-urgent e-mails, but most significantly, her rules.

Some students think Ms. Trish’s strictness can affect the community negatively. “There were leaders of the black community who wanted to live there and now they don’t, in part due to the strictness,” College senior Jeffrey Amoakohene said. “And when the old heads don’t want to live there, the freshmen don’t see a reason to stay.”

But Ms. Trish has her reasons for her behavior. Direct with her speech and regal in nature, Ms. Trish attributes her stringency to the dismal state of Du Bois’ past. Other professors spoke of Du Bois as “an academic wasteland” and “an intellectual cesspool,” she said. “Back then, this was a strong community with too many negative influences in it,” she added.

It was her personal mission to dismantle the house’s negative reputation, and so the infamous rules were born. “I am overprotective of the house’s reputation and many people do not understand that,” she said.

I’m one that does understand Ms. Trish’s rules, and I hope others can understand her position. I prefer to deal with the drawbacks of living in Du Bois in exchange for great off-campus dining, a community where people look out for each other and a house dean who would rather be involved than not.

Others agree with me that Du Bois is worth it. “I love it here,” Wharton freshman Charles Howard said. “It’s different and certainly a transition, but I wouldn’t change it one bit.”

Ms. Trish may overreact, like any other guardian, but she specializes in care. She makes sure the Penn community holds her students in high regard by holding them to above-average expectations. As overbearing and patronizing as the rules may feel, in the end, they serve the greater good. I’d rather deal with my peers perceiving Du Bois as “the black house” — which may be somewhat inevitable due to its namesake’s legacy in the black community — than deal with a faculty-wide perception of Du Bois as an “intellectual cesspool.”

Adrienne Edwards is a College sophomore from Queens, N.Y. Her e-mail address is Ad-Libs appears on Wednesdays.

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