Student Organizations


The student organizations at Oberlin are some of the most flexible and adaptive institutions on campus. When students have an interest in something, they start an organization. Some have very stable memberships from one year to the next, such as OSteel, the steel drum band, while other organizations exist while they have support and become inactive when the interested parties graduate. This flexibility allows the student body to use the funds provided by the student activity fee for purposes that they deem important, rather than being limited by outdated activities from previous generations.

Oberlin students tend to participate in multiple groups and activities. There are more than 150 official student groups on campus, which actively engage in interests ranging from politics and the environment to swing dance and Ultimate Frisbee. Student groups have offices in Wilder Hall, where, on any given day, they set up banners and information tables inviting classmates to get involved.

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So You Want to Go into Public Radio

posted by Samantha Smylie '17 | I love podcasts and public radio. Since my second year at Oberlin, I've been trying to figure out how to make podcasts and get a job in the field. Here are some resources that I've found and some tips that I would like to share about radio at Oberlin.

A Day in the Life

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Everything I Thought I Wouldn't Do

posted by Jules Greene '19 | Overall, college has been a pretty transformative experience, as it's said to be, and I feel that I trust in Oberlin enough to no longer be afraid of the change that may lie ahead for me.

A 44-mile leap out of my comfort zone

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Le Chatelier's Principle

posted by Teague Harvey '19 | The journey to finding equilibrium.

Commencement 2016

posted by Teague Harvey '19 | OSwing, OCircus!, and Legacies.

The CLPP Conference: An Adventure in Massachusetts

posted by Kira Findling '19 | I ventured outside of Oberlin this month and went to Hampshire College in Massachusetts for the Civil Liberties and Public Policy conference with other members of Students United for Reproductive Freedom.

Destigmatizing Abortion through Art and Storytelling

posted by Kira Findling '19 | I'm so proud of the work SURF is doing here at Oberlin, though, of course, there's always more to do. Hopefully, as we move forward, we'll continue to take risks and bring more awareness to issues of reproductive rights and abortion access in Oberlin, Lorain County, and Ohio!

Harkness: An Odyssey through Housing and Dining

posted by Rory O'Donoghue | fine food, janky elevators, comfortable communities, and lots and lots of cooperation

Good Morning, and Good Luck: Musings of a Radio DJ

posted by Jules Greene '19 | My first thought when I opened the email saying that my show had been picked for the fall program was "Oh my god, I'm going to play the Jurassic Park theme song so many times."

GUEST POST: Amanda on the Oberlin Social Dance Scene

posted by Tanya Aydelott, Admissions | Amanda leads you through the social dance opportunities at Oberlin!


posted by Ben Reid '16 | All the OSCA questions you've wanted to ask.

Comedy at Oberlin

posted by Esther Espeland '17 | A guide to funny opportunities at silly ole' Obe.

South Dakota, a $100 sleeping bag, and Mrs. Meanypoopyhead: My IYS Trip

posted by El Wilson '18 | How one week in the middle of nowhere helped me understand 6th grade social studies.

"We Don't Really Know What We're Doing" - A Fall Outdoor Adventure

posted by Esther Espeland '17 | I had a truly wonderful fall break. And all because I learned the following nugget of information: Oberlin's Outings Club sponsors camping excursions during the fall and spring breaks.

I Try Captaining the B Team

posted by Alison Kronstadt '16 | Captaining taught me that a group of people can never have a monolithic definition of success; it's always going to be multifaceted, and they have to define it together.


posted by Alison Kronstadt '16 | Every day in Colorado, I didn't just meet spectacular people, I met spectacular people who believe what I believe: that arts-related activism isn't frivolous, that it can save and radically transform lives.

Runnin' Away With Me

posted by Alexandria Cunningham '16 | Spring is slowly creeping in... do you need something fun to do? Then, take your pick of all the wonderful events coming up in April and May and enjoy your spring semester properly.

Why I quit the Obertones and other stories by Simba Runyowa

posted by Simbarashe Runyowa '15 | I realised and then accepted that unmitigated busyness was not equivalent to productivity, but a threat to it. I learned that sometimes even doing something you love is a luxury that you should be prepared to sacrifice when faced with the exigencies of the bigger picture.

The Mechanics of OSCA

posted by Ida Hoequist '14 | If you're wondering how co-ops run and what you will need to do once you are in them, this post is for you.

OCircus! Goes to the Circus

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | Through the magic of circus networks and the hard work of our administrators, OCircus! was able to offer heavily-discounted tickets and a free bus ride to Cleveland to Oberlin students who wanted to go see Cirque du Soleil. Of course everyone did.

Sex and Editing

posted by Joe Dawson '12 | In which my hesitancy in both precludes me from a career in either.

I am the boss. It is me.

posted by Helena Thompson '11.5 | In this post: rollin' like a G; how to succeed as Editor-in-Chief of an independent news organization without really trying; being elected to a board of directors when you just wanted to sit in on a meeting for the sole purpose of making witty side comments; thinking about things like an adult (even though it's terrifying).

Are You In?

posted by Marsha Lynn Bragg | SJI sessions stimulate, inspire, and cause students to examine why they are involved in the issues and causes they are involved in.

Oberlin LUUV

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | Of Unitarian Universalism and silkscreened t-shirts.

I've Been Back For . . .

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | A batch of chai cinnamon rolls, a pan of brownies, a Cat cookie, a night of playing with glow poi, a contra dance, three textbook sales, many books, many friends.

Chinese Students Association wants YOU

posted by Sophia Chen '12 | I go to CSA when I need a shoulder to cry on or a piece of roast pork to eat. And I learn about Chinese culture in the process.

On (the Bike) Co-op(s)

posted by William Passannante '14 | Moscow (the bike, not the city) needed fixing.

The living is ridiculously easy--

posted by Chinwe Okona '13 | Actually I'm crazy busy, but whatever! It's summertime!

The Llama Proposal

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | The proposal llama is one of several esoteric hand symbols used during co-op discussions at Oberlin. Here is the story of how it originated.

Chinese Students Association

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | I learned that storing freshly spray painted lanterns in your room is usually a bad idea and I learned how to eat chicken feet.

Cake and Circuses

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | The Romans would offer bread and circuses to distract the public from real issues and keep them happy. Similarly, I am writing about pleasant things to avoid working on finals.

I Crave Mats and Open Spaces

posted by Ida Hoequist '14 | Are there support groups for people who can't stop tumbling? I need one.

Send Silence Packing

posted by Patrick Doherty '11 | In which Active Minds raises awareness about suicide rates on college campuses.

An open letter about College Orchestra

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | Now Zoë, you may be thinking. Three hours of rehearsing a week? That's a lot of rehearsing time. And you'd be right. But another thing that I may or may not have already mentioned to you is that now we're doing two concerts a semester.

New Vistas and Tough Choices

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | Oberlin is an active, interesting place. For students, it is a great boon and a great tragedy: among all the wonderful opportunities we have, we must confront and accept the fact that we will never be able to explore them all.

Insanely busy(ier than usual)

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | In which Tess raves about her social science classes, challenges the use of images of women in advertising, goes to a panel discussion, and learns how to sing (kind of).

Tumbling Club

posted by Ida Hoequist '14 | The Brazilian jujitsu people call it ninja training. This is the path that led me to it.

On Bikes and Brothers

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | Brothers (and bikes) are pretty cool. I'm very glad I have both.

From Idea to Reality: Active Minds at Oberlin

posted by Patrick Doherty '11 | Or, how one person and one organization changed my entire Oberlin experience for the better.

In which I discuss the moon instead of thermo

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | Last year, I got to play the role of a whiny, ignorant child. This year, I got to play the role of an angsty, apathetic teen. It's like I'm growing older and everything.

Festival of Culture (so as not to reproduce a similar title exactly)

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | When we ambled around Tappan Square, I was the head of the lion, hearkening back to the first time I did the lion dance. My lovely friend who was the tail was also the person who danced with me that first time.

A Beginner's Guide to Oberspeak, Oberlin Acronyms, and More

posted by Helena Thompson '11.5 | I learned a whole new language upon matriculating at Oberlin. Here's your crash course!

Getting Involved

posted by Joe Dawson '12 | If I know anything about Oberlin freshmen, you're not too preoccupied worrying about what to pack and what classes you want to take to worry about other activities at Oberlin.

"What are you?"

posted by Karl Orozco '13 | What being a Filipino American has meant to me.

No Regrets

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | My goal was to graduate without any lingering "I should have done X, Y and Z!" I (almost) succeeded.

Reflecting, learning, laboring

posted by Sam Jewler '10 | The end of the year is always a time for reflecting on what you've accomplished. Having alumni salute you for it makes those feelings all the more meaningful.

Firsts and Lasts

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | Not that I dislike Oberlin's small, enclosed environment. It's been an incredible space to figure out who I am, what I like, what I don't like, what matters to me, and what I want to do about it. But it is time to leave.

CSA Hot Pot

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | Maybe this bit of sentimentality was brought on by the fact that I was standing in a normal kitchen, not a tiny dorm kitchen or an industrial-sized co-op kitchen.

OSCA Prom: a night to remember

posted by Eli Goldberg '12 | When we last left our fearless hero, he was waist-deep in a vat of vegan Jell-O. But a far more formidable challenge loomed - organizing the prom...

Key Moments (Part II)

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | A few more I LOVE OBERLIN moments.

Asian Pop Night, etc.

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | I pointed out that no one in CSA is going to go out there and start any sort of dance-off, but that bit of sanity seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Broken Spring

posted by John West '10 | In this post: vegetable gardening, homemade compost bins, the anti-rot properties of cedar, sleep, Wilder Voice, inscrutable comics, the Coal River Valley, Obie activism, and much, much more.

The Ballad of Balboa

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | One of the best dancers in America lives in Cleveland: Valerie Salstrom. OSwing, in its great and powerful wisdom, invited her to visit Oberlin for a weekend to teach balboa and blues.

Caution: contains Jell-O wrestling!

posted by Eli Goldberg '12 | It's spring break. It's two in the morning. I am trying to figure out how much it will cost to fill a kiddie pool with vegan Jell-O. How did I end up here?

College Orchestra! (not our official name)

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | Here's some exciting news: the Oberlin College Arts and Sciences Orchestra got chartered this week!

Building a magazine from the ground up

posted by Sam Jewler '10 | I spent the last two years of my life learning journalism at the Oberlin Review. But the time came for change, and now I've used what I learned there to help create a new environmental magazine at Oberlin.

The Midwest Asian American Student Conference.

posted by Karl Orozco '13 | A series of talks, lectures, and performances discussing the role new media plays in Asian American society.

Has Spring Sprung?

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | A vitamin-D infused blogpost.

Chinese New Year Banquet!

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | How exactly were we supposed to tape a tea light in a lantern? Did that even matter, since they wouldn't be able to see the tea light anyway?

Fall 2009 Student Senate Referendum: Struggle, Success, and Results

posted by Isaac Yoder '13 | After a semester of toiling to finish the Student Senate Referendum, Isaac and the other senators are relieved to have collected enough votes to reach quorum and make the results official.

Raising the Roof (and the funds)

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | How to get money at Oberlin to fund your meaningful ideas

Just (Swing) Dance

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | I'm incredibly clumsy -- when I was a freshman, I actually fell on my face hard enough to give myself a black eye. But regardless, I love to dance. Especially swing dance.

More about my tortured path to CSA

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | I arrived early, because I still went early to things back then, and loitered around outside the door of the room in Wilder until I felt it was a proper time to enter.

SUNSHINE SCOUTS!! (the improv group I keep mentioning.)

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | In which our protagonist goes to Chicago with eight other Obies and they do seriously amazing stuff. And we have videos.

Quitting ain't easy

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | Why it's much easier to join organizations than quit them, and why quitting is sometimes the right move.

Spinnin' in the City

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | As it is this wonderful tradition to bring as much as possible of Oberlin to New York, I implemented a plan last fall to bring as much of OCircus! to New York as possible. In this post: Circus! Photos! Autumn!

Fall Break: Social Justice Institute

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | I first heard about the SJI in the admissions packet I got at the beginning of the summer. It wasn't terribly clear about what exactly the SJI was going to be, but I filled out the application anyway and sent it in, figuring it would be interesting if I got in. I did, and I attended the first session of it today. I still wasn't very clear about what it was until it started. . .

Lions, Vicodin, and Audience Participation

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | If you've been following along with us, you'll know that this past weekend we celebrated the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. I was mainly in charge of directing the skit. I took this very seriously.

Cleveland, or And then I ate food

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | Did you know there's more than one type of bok choy? There's Taiwanese bok choy and baby bok choy and all these other leafy green vegetables that look like bok choy but aren't called bok choy.

Another post about dancing

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | By the conclusion of the meeting, we'd decided that the guy who did the lion dance last year would pass on his knowledge to those who were interested.


posted by Will Mason '10 | A wish list for Fall semester.


posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | Remember when I was talking about opportunities? Allow me to expound upon another opportunity that I encountered late last semester, involving dance. Just to shake things up a bit, I'm not going to write about Indian dance again.

Decisions, Decisions

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | You can't do everything at Oberlin, but by god do we all try.

How to put together a successful CSA film festival

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | Watch some of the movie. Become rather confused because you've missed the first fifteen minutes. Snicker at inappropriate moments.

Hump Day: Why I Love Wednesday Nights

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | We're wacky siblings that not only parents can love, cut from the same cloth but making something different with it. Either way, we have some pretty stylish designers making some great informed and artistic decisions.

Swing Dancing > "Real World"

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | In fear of the real world, I resolved to do and see as many ridiculous things as I can this semester. Like swing dancing.

Lunar New Year Banquet

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | From what I saw of it from my place serving "beef in spicy sauce," the performance was great.

The Life of a Journalist...Go!

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | Working for a paper is exciting at times. Going without sleep comes with the territory.

Selling Yourself: The Oberlin Dating Game

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | It was by far one of the more entertaining things one could have done on Valentine's Day, and it was for a good cause. There are only so many ways to make free chocolate taste better, and that's having it come out of your nose from laughing too hard.

Contra Dancing: What, Where and Why You Should Do It

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | I'll do anything for a contra dance.

Doing the Layout

posted by John West '10 | There's something to be said for a small liberal-arts college in a backwater hamlet a charming slice of small-town America that has two newspapers. And there's something more to be said a college that has two newspapers (The Oberlin Review, The Oberlin Grape--for which I am a copy editor), three non-fiction magazines (Wilder Voice, Vox, In Solidarity), a literary journal (formerly The Plum Creek Review, formerly Enchiridion, now The Plum Creek Review--again), a genre-fiction magazine (Spiral) and doesn't have a journalism department.

I ran away and joined the circus

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | It's been over a week since the final performance of the Johnson Family Circus. I'm in an extraordinary position to continue reliving the show for days, weeks, even months after.

Storming the Field

posted by Emily Robinson '12 | There's nothing quite like the Oberlin College Marching Band.

Woman who fell from the sky

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | The Storytelling Exco has been the pillar of my college experience -- performance on the outside and therapy on the inside.

Bikes and Summer

posted by Max Strasser '09 | The bike coop at Oberlin is a community project that promotes environmental responsibility.

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