Before the Women’s Collective was housed in Baldwin, it was at Mallory. I had the good fortune to live there for a year. I was a sophomore and had spent my freshman year living in North Hall. I went from a super-large to a super-small living environment. Program houses are an amazing way to incorporate informal learning into the overall college experience.
There were only 13 of us then at Mallory (a fraction of the 35 that Baldwin now fits) so you can imagine how close-knit our community was! At that house I learned about the hard work of consensus. I learned the true value of female camaraderie. I learned about tolerance and love.
I was blessed by the intimacy that can come from searching, together with other women, for an understanding of what it means to be a feminist. In a world in which that can be grossly misunderstood, we were proud to be strong women, each in our own different way, and to self-identify as feminists. We explored and tested the boundaries of our belief in the fundamental worth of women’s experiences, in a world fashioned by men for themselves.
More importantly, that year at Mallory we reached out to our brethren at Zeke -the “jock” house, and found that not only could we “all get along” but we could actually have fun together! That is what Oberlin is really all about: finding the unexpected, sometimes where you least expect to find it.
(Editor’s note: Mallory is still in good use - it now houses the Oberlin Shansi Program.)