Oberlin Blogs

Sci-Fi Hall!

September 26, 2010

Tess Yanisch ’13

Most colleges give their students a choice between traditional housing and fraternities or sororities. Oberlin, being Oberlin, has a different--and much wider--array of choices. The most salient differences, perhaps, are that we don't have frats and we do have co-ops. This, however, fails to capture the range of on-campus living options.

There are three first-year-only dorms. One of them, Kahn, is new this year and very fancy. There's a quiet hall somewhere in East. There's substance-free housing (Barnard, where I lived last year). There's Baldwin Cottage, the women/transgender safe space. There's a hall just for transfer students. Then there are the culture- or language-themed halls: French House, Spanish House, Russian House, German House, Afrikan Heritage House, Asia House, Hebrew Heritage House, and Third World House ("for those who identify as a marginalized person including people of color, first generation college students, low income families, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, questioning and transgender students and allies of all these groups"). But even that list leaves out theme halls.

Case in point: the Science-Fiction and Fantasy Hall, more often referred to as Sci-Fi Hall, where I now live.

People gathered around a laptop screen

That is a picture of the SF Hall lounge. Note the space paintings on the wall and the people clustered around Ye Olde Computer Screen. Part of the reason I like living on Hall is the fact that there's a community there, people always in the lounge for me to hang out with. As an introvert, I appreciate that there are people around to interact with easily if I so choose. Otherwise, I'd be spending far too much time in my room on my computer. --Like I am now. --Hold on, please, while I relocate to the lounge.

*dee de dum* Your blog is important to us. Please continue to hold. Your blog is important to us. Tess will be through walking shortly. *dee de dum*

Okay, much better. This is my view now:

People relaxing, talking, and reading

It's the other side of the lounge! Actually, it's a lot quieter now than it was when I took that picture, because it's Sunday night and most people are doing homework. There is activity in the little TV nook, though--people playing video games--and there are a few people reading.

You see, the lounge has a library. People put their books out here (after writing their names in them somewhere) and everyone may browse at their leisure. The only rule is that books may not leave the lounge.

Shelves with piles of books

It's mostly science fiction and fantasy, of course, but there's quite a variety within that general heading. We have all of Neil Gaiman's Sandman, the Abhorsen trilogy, a few Heinlein titles, two copies of Dune, Scott Pilgrim, The Silmarillion, some Terry Pratchett, Arthur C. Clarke, Douglas Adams, the Bartimaeus trilogy, Watchmen, lots of things I don't recognize, I am America (And So Can You), World War Z, oooh--something that says Bradbury on it! I should go read that...

Rules posted on bookshelf: 1. Books do not ever leave the lounge. 2. Always leave your bookmark with your name visible. 3. Respect other people's bookmarks. 4. Respect the book. 5. If the book is yours write your name and OCMR. 6. Always register your books.

Anyway, it's a wonderful resource for the nerdly-minded. I've contributed a few titles to the general betterment of humanity myself. However, I haven't yet been using the library, or indeed the lounge, as much as I'd hoped. I've been busy: settling in, getting sick, then dropping a class and catching up in another. Hopefully, I will get things well under control in the next week or so, and can start hanging out with more people and taking action on the already-overwhelming list of books, movies, and TV shows they've been recommending!

One thing I have done, though, is participate in a raid on Oberlin's other themed hall: Classics Hall. They're new; apparently, Oberlin used to have a Classics Hall, but then they didn't for a while, and then last year all the classics people put down Catullus, put on their togas, and Socratically organized a home for themselves. Or so I like to picture it.

Anyway, the already-established Sci-Fi community decided that the two theme halls must have a rivalry. We live in North; they live in South. The obvious way to commence hostilities--or perhaps hilarities--was to march across campus in post-Apocalyptic biker gang attire and attack/raid their lounge just before their Movie Night started.

. . . That is the obvious thing to do, right?

About a dozen residents, several in costume. On the wall behind them is a poster of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Picture courtesy of Daniella Sanchez.


Emma and I had lots of fun getting ready. Think of any movie you've seen, or book that you've read, in which two roommates are busily primping on a Friday night, giving each other advice about what to wear and how their hair should look. Now just replace your mental soundtrack with "Do short leggings look more kick-ass than long ones?" and "Okay, I think I'll sacrifice the shirt. Can you help me rip this sleeve?"

Wearing leggings and a ripped top


Dressed in black leggings and black top

Once that was done, we gathered in the lounge to distribute weapons.

These SF fans are dressed to kill
Picture courtesy of Daniella Sanchez.

Then we proceeded to Starlight Lounge, the big lounge, for a proper group photograph. Don't we look sexy? And dangerous? And really, really goofy?

A ragtag band of SF fans is ready for battle
Picture courtesy of Daniella Sanchez.

We marched across campus in a raggedy band, singing "The Imperial March" as we went, attracting puzzled stares and fascinated looks. When Mike, our Fearless Leader (in the long beige coat with the giant bazooka-like device), raised his fist, we all shouted together. Every now and then, someone would holler that "Owks is good for foightin' and wimmin!" I am sure we were an intimidating sight.

We made it into South, and up the flights of stairs to the third floor, past the startled inhabitants who were trying to leave their rooms, and into the Classics Hall lounge, exactly five minutes before their movie night should have started.

There was no one there.

We milled about in uncertainty in the narrow hallways for a few minutes (and if you think it's easy for a few dozen epically-dressed, heavily nerf-armed people to mill around in a long, narrow space, you should try it sometime). They had tricked us! Or we'd gotten the time wrong. Something. No one was really sure what to do--until there was a challenge from the head of the stairs.

Long story short, we had a parley with a representative of the Classics Hall and agreed to meet at some to-be-determined time to make cookies together. Then we rambled back to North via an Anime Club meeting and changed out of our very hot clothes. (Trenchcoats, wool, and giant boots aren't too comfy in 80-degree weather.) The lounge was very loud and excited that evening.


Emma and I live down this wing of Sci-Fi Hall. There's another, identical wing that's also part of Sci-Fi Hall: it covers the entire north side of the second floor of North.

When we're not in the lounge, Emma and I are in our room. It's a divided double, meaning it's actually two rooms, with a door between them. I have the outer room; she has the inner one.

Dorm room bed, desk and window

The desk has a built-in bookshelf. I didn't break it with a zillion books this year! I am proud of my self-restraint. The library has something to do with this.

Neat desk and bookshelves

Emma and I are very good friends. We get along wonderfully.

Whiteboard. Part 1: Out on a walk. I'll be back! Part 2, in different handwriting: RIP Tess. Went on a walk. Was devoured by giant space ants. Now I get her stuff.


Closet doors, desk and dresser.


Bulletin board with a few papers on it.
^Look! My room came with a bulletin board! This makes me very happy for some reason.

This does not follow naturally anywhere, but I took the photo, so I want to tell you about it: Sci-Fi lounge also has a kitchen. Unlike Barnard's last year, this one gets used—heavily. People contribute dishes and tea to it, much like the library. Everyone cleans it, and the lounge, once a week. It's cool.

Kitchen cabinets and countertop

So that's Hall. I am sure many of my further posts will have something to do with Hall, the quirky people here, and the crazy things we do. (I also do lots of things with my friends from last year at Barnard, but so far they have not resulted in pictures of post-Apocalyptic bikers—just discussions of snake sex, which are not quite as bloggable.)

If you are a prospie, I invite you to come visit us if/when you come tour the campus: we're welcoming, intelligent, and funny. If you already live here, I strongly urge you to come visit at least once! We like new people!

Responses to this Entry

The problem, oh futuristic now-allies, was that you came to invade five minutes *before* the movie night was to start. We didn't even find the person who was supposed to have the movies until a good five minutes after the theoretical start time.

But the cookies were delicious.

Posted by: Arianna on September 26, 2010 10:54 PM

wait is Barrows not a freshman dorm anymore?

Posted by: Anonymous on September 27, 2010 11:15 PM

Tess, are you really sure that those looks were "fascinated" and not "horrified"?

Posted by: Dad on September 27, 2010 11:15 PM

I actually don't know Barrows' status this year. I know there was some talk about making either it or Dascomb all-year dorms because of the new Kahn building, but I'm not sure if that ever came to anything.

Posted by: Tess on September 28, 2010 8:17 AM

There are three first-year dorms, including Barrows.

Posted by: David on September 28, 2010 10:02 AM

Do we really have a Classics Hall now? Not that I have intentions of joining. Just amused/curious.

Posted by: Karl on September 28, 2010 12:23 PM

Yes, we totally have a Classics Hall now. We're on the 3rd floor of South. Stop by sometime!

If you would like to be on the events mailing list, email agoodmanAToberlin.

Posted by: Arianna on September 28, 2010 1:27 PM

Happy to see that sci-fi hall is alive and kicking, as I know some people who lived there when sci-fi hall first came into being! Is it no longer in Barnard?

Posted by: Old Fogey Non-Alum on October 1, 2010 6:09 PM

I don't know that Sci-Fi Hall was ever in Barnard--I only know Barnard as substance-free housing. I know SF Hall used to be on the 4th floor of Noah, but then it got too big and moved to where it is now.

Posted by: Tess on October 1, 2010 9:09 PM

Are there any Doctor Who fans in this hall? :)
This looks amazing.

Posted by: HopefulFutureObie on October 23, 2011 11:35 AM

SO MANY DR. WHO FANS. They're getting to me, too--I just saw two episodes of David Tennant's Doctor. *swoon* --Er. Ahem. Yes indeed there are. I recently witnessed a prank in which someone's door was covered with pictures of the Weeping Angels.

Hall *is* amazing, and incredibly welcoming. You should come visit! (And e-mail me if you have any other questions--just click my name on this comment.)

Posted by: Tess on October 23, 2011 11:45 AM

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