Thinking about the Open House

For many students, part of the college experience involves maintaining their religious traditions from home. Of course, since it’s college, they also may be exploring other dimensions of spirituality, or questioning the entire concept itself. Luckily, for Denison students, there is the Open House.

As you probably already know from TheDEN’s coverage, the new home for Denison’s Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, the Open House fosters a constant acknowledgment of all views, including those that some may consider non-spiritual. Students are welcomed to join in on traditional celebrations or just take time out for some quiet meditation. Here, TheDEN presents a sampling of their perspectives.


Lauren Pitler ’11

Open House Student Worker

How she came to work at the Open House: “I was raised Catholic, but I didn’t want to be stereotyped. When I came to Denison, I was still searching for something. I wanted to see different religious perspectives and become more informed. I’d always been fond of the fourth floor of Slayter [where the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life previously was located], so it seemed like a natural place to work.”

The Open House for her: “When I walk in, I feel at ease. It’s an escape. I can step back and take deep breaths. It’s very spiritual, a safe place. There’s nothing better than seeing people with totally different beliefs come together under one roof. Seeing all these different perspectives intrinsically at one time has allowed me to take pieces from different religions and create something that I was comfortable with.”

Advice for students: “Everyone should take time to check out the Open House, not necessarily for religious reasons, but just to reflect. The Open House is an environment where you can feel relaxed and at peace with yourself. You are literally walking way from campus and any problems [you might have there.] It’s not like a classroom or anywhere else. It’s whatever you want to make it.”


Daphne Martin ’12

Open House Student Worker

How she got her job: “My background influenced my decision to work here. I came from a Christian household and wanted something that would keep me close to home. For me, it’s more than just a job.”

The move from Slayter to Mulberry Circle: “I was so proud of the dedication ceremony last year. It was culmination of my work experience. Open House is a unique thing – few campuses have an actual house. Denison is diverse, and religious life can be the face of that. Finding people of faith to worship with makes with makes the college experience better and easier. People also can just go to the Open House at any time to do their homework. This is a very considerate environment.”


Tom Mitchell ’11

Elder Council Member of Denison Religious Understanding (DRU)

DRU Discussions: “We talk about everyday life, how getting up every day means you believe in something, how every moment —even simply walking—takes faith. You can only talk about your own experiences though. You can’t say what Catholics or Christians do. It must be on a personal level.”

The Open House: “It’s a neutral space to chill. It’s dissected from the classroom. In class, you’re trying to look smart. At a party, you’re trying to look cool. Open House is a place to come, talk, and be yourself. I don’t think people talk enough.”


Olivia Cox ’13

Member of Ecclesia, non-denominational Christian bible study

Leading a discussion: “There were certain questions that I wanted to share with Ecclesia. It turns out they had been asking the same questions themselves. My concerns came from within me and I was met with nothing but support. The Open House is a safe place where it’s okay to talk about things. There are respectful conversations. It’s a great place to share perspectives and further develop your own beliefs.”

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