Community. It’s an exciting word for me, and a word that describes why, each year, somewhere around 250 of Oberlin’s incoming freshmen request to live in Barrows or Dascomb Hall for the “first-year experience.” But what exactly does that experience entail? Well, say what you’ve heard about too much noise or out of control parties - my Barrows experience was a whole lot of love, and one of the most comfortably-fitting pieces of my first-year-at-Oberlin-and-college puzzle.
Among the highlights: our very first ’80s night at the ’Sco, finding a free inflatable baby pool at the town-wide garage sale and bringing it home (sorry we never used it, Dan), going to Lorenzo’s in costume on Halloween for free pizza (among the best-dressed: my roommate and four others as the different stages of Britney Spears), staying up late on a regular basis doing nothing but sitting or standing in the hallway and talking, making latkes together before winter break, screaming and running around (lots of running around) when we found out that Valentine’s Day 2007 was to be a snow day, and enjoying our time lying out in the sun decidedly not getting our homework done as the afternoons eventually got warmer.
We were there for each other, whether it was for too much homework or too much partying. We still are, halfway through our junior years, and I hope we always will be.
Granted, Barrows isn’t the most modern building in the world, and just like life, it’s not always a love-fest. But it’s all part of the experience - and I am very happy about what the whole experience has done for me. Since our first year, my friends from Barrows and I have expanded our friendship and community horizons by joining co-ops and sports teams and getting more involved in our classes and clubs. But hanging out with each other has not gotten old.
The first-year experience isn’t the only way to find the sense of community that I feel is so strong and loving at Oberlin. Co-ops and program houses are two places that, off the top of my head, I also think can provide the support that can get first-years going on their Oberlin journey in a positive direction. And I think that every student at Oberlin gets to have the right to decide how much social life they want around their living area.
But I hope that incoming Obies who decide to live in Barrows or Dascomb will experience the same feeling I felt often in my first year. I think the first time I felt it was the day before classes started in the fall of 2006, when I walked in the Woodland Street entrance of Barrows, tired but happy after having spent the whole day at Cedar Point. A bunch of people were sitting on the couches, the TV was on, and one of my new friends and I waved at each other as I walked back to my room.
It was simple, but I felt like I was home. I think that’s good community for you.