Office of Residence Life

Theme Living

As part of the Office of Residence Life's effort to provide singular and individual housing experiences, Theme Living is arranged across a number of campus residence halls and covers a variety of interests. 

Theme communities are created and renewed on a yearly basis by students. 

Theme Living Applications

Complete the specific application(s) if you are interested in living in Theme Living. All Theme Living is by application only. Once you submit your application, the faculty and staff in charge of that program will review it and rank it for room selection.

You may apply to at least two thematic communities, but at most three thematic communities each year. Priority in the application and selection process will be given to those students who meet the published deadlines. Placement will be determined by the availability of space.  The separate THEME & Identity Space Application must be completed each year in order to live in these spaces. 

Communities Available to All Students

Location: Lord Hall (Afrikan Heritage House)

The Brotherhood Wing aims to be a space for men of color, but specifically for Black men to feel embraced, supported, and celebrated.  The hall hopes to bring to light and talk about intersectionality of class, socio-economic status, Blackness, and masculinity within the context of the United States

Location: Barnard

Oberlin College graduates an unusually large number of students who go on to earn PhDs in STEM, yet this success is not equally shared by all students. While a large percentage of Oberlin students graduate with STEM majors, persistence in STEM at Oberlin is lower for students who are historically underrepresented in higher education: students of color, first-generation college students, and low-income college students. A key component of many students’ decision to drop STEM majors is feeling that they do not belong in and are not prepared for the sciences. Social climate and support networks outside the classroom are also critical to student persistence in STEM. The Roots in STEM Living Learning Community seeks to address this issue by promoting a sense of belonging and community in STEM amongst underrepresented students. The Roots in STEM Living Learning Community will offer students a space wherein they can identify as a scientist without losing their connection to their communities and identities.

Location: Noah 2nd Floor

Science Fiction and Fantasy Theme Living is a community of individuals living in Barnard House. We have chosen to live with each other because we are, for lack of a better term, nerdy. We all have interests that fall into the broad category “Sci-fi and Fantasy,” and having a theme community allows us to share our interests and experiences in a way totally unlike other campus groups.

Living together provides a unique opportunity to enjoy regular group activities as well as spontaneous events. Our planned hall-wide events include screenings of movies and television shows, including anime—we have a special Giant Robot Night, as well. Unplanned activities include games of Magic: The Gathering, the Pokémon Trading Card Game, and various video and board games.

In the past, we have arranged several programs for Oberlin students, such as organizing a bus trip to go to a reading and signing done by Neil Gaiman and having a Lord of the Rings movie marathon. We hope to continue like programming in the future, both for our residents and for others who may be interested.

SciFi Hall members have and continue to lead various 'nerdy' organizations and ExCos on campus. These include the genre fiction magazine Spiral and the gaming organization OGRE. Members taught a Genre Fiction Workshop ExCo, a Dungeons and Dragons ExCo and a Pokémon TCG ExCo. Office hours for these classes have all been held in SciFi Hall lounge.

Though we're a large group, we do our best to be open to members of the wider Oberlin community, and not just our residents. We encourage others, such as the residents of North, to use our lounge, including our library, television, and game systems.

A group atmosphere also encourages the individual members to offer new ideas and perspectives to others and instill a mindset that promotes group responsibility. Not to mention that participating in a group of twenty can often be a lot more fun than a group of five.

Location: Saunders Hall (Afrikan Heritage House)

Sisters of the Yam (SOY) was the name of a support group for Black women that Bell Hooks established in the 1980s. In Hooks’ own words, the support group was a "space where Black women could name their pain and find ways of healing.” The title of the group, Sisters of the Yam, was inspired by a passage in Toni Cade Bambara’s Salt Eaters (1980) where Bambara asks the question “What is happening to the daughters of the yam? Seems like they just don’t know how to draw up the powers from the deep like before.” In 2005, Hooks published a book, Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery, which serves as an intellectual healing guide for Black women. The SOY Hall and affiliated student organization build upon Hooks' legacy and will foster an affirming and empowering environment for Black women through community building and self-care.

Location: Noah Hall 4th Floor and Burton 4th Floor

Quiet House is allocated for those who want quiet living conditions all the time, 24 hours a day. Availability is based on student request for this type of living and is not necessarily offered each year if we do not see enough interest for this type of environment from the student population.

Location: Noah Hall 3rd Floor

The goal of this community is to promote and help the development of a healthy lifestyle in order to better support the Oberlin students who make the conscious choice and effort to live substance-free.

Communities Available to First-Year Students Only

Location: Kahn Hall

Robert Lewis Kahn Hall is part of the First Year Residential Experience Cluster and is focused on sustainable living. First-year students living in Kahn Hall apply to live in the space and have pledged to make sustainability part of their everyday life by trying to conserve water and energy, reduce waste, avoid bringing cars to campus, and minimize their negative impact on the environment. In each wing of the building, students can monitor their energy and water use in real time. The U.S. Green Building Council has certified Kahn Hall with its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating, signifying that the hall has met certain criteria such as water efficiency and indoor environmental quality.

Students wishing to live in Kahn Hall must apply and sign a pledge committing themselves to living sustainably. 

Theme Creation and Renewal Process

New Theme Community Application (How to create a new theme community)

  • Groups must submit the New Theme Proposal Application to the Office of Residence Life by  December 15 at 5 p.m. 
  • Approval of the proposal will be determined in consultation with the Office of Residence Life. Approval will be for the next academic year only.

Theme Community Renewal Application (must be completed annually by Theme Leaders)

  • There are a number of changes to the Theme Living Application form including the Advisor Agreement Form and the Housing Commitment Form . The intent of these forms is to not limit a group, but to create a stronger community.
  • Requests for renewal must be received by the Office of Residence Life by  December 15 at 5 p.m.