Aristotle House was one of the two UIC dorm houses created in 2013. The house took its name from the famous Greek philosopher to embody the values the man upheld. Aristotle believed that to live a good life was to both carry and nurture good character and actively engage in activities that are intellectually and morally stimulating. With the motto, “The Good Life”, the house sought a balance of intellectual and cultural growth along with the “pursuit of pleasure.” Through a combination of events, programs, lectures, and seminars, Aristotle House hoped to promote a living space where students of all ethnicities, nationalities, and cultures could overcome barriers and form long-lasting bonds. As years passed, and students and faculty have come and gone, the house developed a reputation as the ‘Fun House’; it was known for having the biggest events and the most diverse community on campus (it was also the house known to have incurred the most amount of penalty points). From the outside, it seemed that most of the students residing in Aristotle House embraced the house motto in a literal sense. Whether it could have been attributed to the house events, the shenanigans that some students found themselves in, or the plethora of friendships made in the dorm, it is suffice to say that Aristotle House was an experience which many Aristotelians were fond of.
Given that there were many who held Aristotle house in high regard, it is therefore understandable that the proposal for the name change of the dorm was met with criticism. In 2017 the Resident College (RC) administration decided to change the dorm name from Aristotle to Appenzeller (the name of one of Yonsei University’s founders), citing the reason that they wanted to have a house that more closely identified with Yonsei traditions. Some felt that the name change itself was unnecessary, while others felt that it signified a change in Aristotle House itself: a change which disregarded the history and memories the that house carried.
In light of this recent criticism, the current RAs (Residential Assistants) and RM (Residential Master) of Appenzeller House were approached to gain some insight about the recent name change of the house. Prof. Denton, the current Resident Master, stood firmly by the idea that Appenzeller is not a name change which replaces and disregards Aristotle. “Appenzeller House retains the same values and traditions that Aristotle House did – it is Aristotle House in everything but name. We are still the only English language house in the Residential College, we still have and encourage an incredible diversity of international experience, and we still hold the annuals events started by former Aristotle RMs and RAs: the Black & White Party, the talent show, the international potluck with UGC, and the year-end banquet.” Professor Denton explained that though it wasn’t welcomed by everyone, the name change to Appenzeller has been an opportunity for the house to be more integrated with the rest of Yonsei and to be more the “Aristotle spirit” to the rest of the Residential College.
Henry Appenzeller was an American missionary who grew up speaking German and English, he attended a liberal arts college, and his favorite subject was Greek Languages and Literature. When he came to Korea with Horace Underwood, he founded schools and helped translate the New Testament from Greek to Korean. His daughter Alice was also probably the first “third culture kid” born in Korea. His life embodied the kind of international community that UIC is trying to create. As such, nothing was lost with the name change, and instead, it could be seen as an indication of several forces slowly coming into work to bring change within UIC and the RC; by first starting small with the Appenzeller name change. The RM Prof. Denton hopes to turn Appenzeller into a “UIC residential community” that seeks to “integrate” an international cultural experience to any and all that are interested.
When asked to comment on the name change, the current Chief Resident Assistant, Dawoom Jung, had sentiments which echoed that of the RM as well. He stated that rather than replacing the old Aristotle, the RAs seek to grow with Appenzeller; to retain the traditions that made Aristotle memorable yet at the same time push forward new events and programs to make Appenzeller the best it can be in accordance to the ‘the Good Life’. “It requires a balance between the new and the old, and the new changes we do make are done in small increments because in the end, none of us (the RAs) want to completely change the house.”
Another hope is that these efforts of the RC community and the RAs will facilitate interactions between the local Korean students and international students. These efforts are something that RAs interviewed corroborate, one such example being the ‘Language Tables’ a prime example of this new initiative of the international common ground. ‘Language Tables’ is a house program where students can converse in a variety of languages besides Korean and English, including French, Spanish, German, Arabic, and Japanese. Welcoming both students that wanted to practice speaking another language and those who wanted to learn a new one, this program was a successful first step to creating an environment where students of all nationalities could comfortably interact with each other.
In the end, the change from Aristotle to Appenzeller should just be taken as nothing more than what it is: a change of the name. It appears that there were no drastic changes to the dorm house itself that followed from this change. The events, the principles, and people that made Aristotle what it was still exist as aspects of Appenzeller.