Dorms, Co-ops, & Other Housing


As a residential campus, Oberlin compels its students to create a vibrant community that extends far beyond the classroom. College and conservatory students live together and share a single campus culture, thus making Oberlin a truly unified community. Sharing ideas and experiences at all hours of the day and night, we interact with one another like atoms.

To provide for the varied needs of its students, Oberlin offers a plethora of housing options: traditional residence halls, program houses organized around language or cultural affinities, student-initiated special floors devoted to an academic interest or hobby, and co-op houses in which students share in the preparation of meals and running the household.

New students have the option of residing in one of the two first-year dorms, Barrows and Dascomb. In these dorms, students are provided with special programming and events that assists in the transition to college life.

Fourth-year and some third-year students have the opportunity to live in "village housing" - houses and apartments owned by the college - to provide a greater sense of independence. A limited number of seniors are also able to live off-campus and rent local properties.

As an alternative, the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA) is a student-owned and operated non-profit corporation that provides both housing and dining to Obies. Nine separate co-ops - each responsible for its own day-to-day operations - provide students with the option of living and/or dining in a communal and cooperative environment. OSCA members are expected to help run the operations of their various co-ops - through food preparation, cleaning the house, etc. - and are granted a say in how things are run. In addition, by using a lottery system in housing selection, OSCA ensures that even new students are given the opportunity to take part in the community.

There are no fraternities or sororities at Oberlin.

More information:

Blog Entries Related To This Topic:

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Settling Down

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From Quiet Floor to Asia House

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Harkness: An Odyssey through Housing and Dining

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My Experience of Barrows After (Almost) a Semester

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The Eleven Best Things About Dining in a Co-op

posted by Rachel Finn-Lohmann '18 | This year I'm dining in Old Barrows co-op, and it's been one of the best parts of my semester.

A Fresh Start

posted by Celina Kobetitsch '19 | It's normal to be anxious about leaving home for college. It's also normal to be excited. I see leaving home as an opportunity.

My First Year Housing Experience

posted by Kameron Dunbar '19 | Where I live: what was expected and what was realized.

Blogging Across Oceans: Oberlin and Kunming

posted by Brendan Nuse '17 and Frances Casey '17 | The start of the semester in two very different locales.

My Three Quad-Mates

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A Spare Room

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Dorm Décor!

posted by Esther Espeland '17 | For those on a budget ;)

I Learn to Cook!

posted by Esther Espeland '17 | I cook in OSCA and then I cook in a real life restaurant!!!


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

Peek Inside My Dorm!

posted by Christie Krancer '18 | Whether you're a prospie looking for an inside look at Oberlin's dorms or a current student who wants to see what other people do with their living spaces, come on down to North/Langston and check out my room!

Alas, Poor Frederick!

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What's On Our Desks?

posted by Brendan Nuse '17 and Frances Casey '17 | In which Brendan reveals his greatest talent (Bop-It) and Frances shares her favorite inspirational quote.

Directional Living

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An Introduction to OSCA Hand Signs

posted by Andres Cuervo '17 | A short list for first-time OSCAns, or anyone needing a quick refresher!

Why Should You Live In Harkness?

posted by Andres Cuervo '17 | Find out why I think you should live in Harkness!

The Case for Co-Ops: And Other First-Year Lessons

posted by Andres Cuervo '17 | What to expect and what I learned as a first year (and, of course, a GIF!).


posted by Peter D'Auria '14 | OSCA is like a glistening gem, polished to perfection by a master gem-polisher.

Around and About: Welcome to my Humble Abode

posted by Tinni Bhattacharyya '16 | Come on in and check out my dorm room!

Scummin' It

posted by Anna Vernon '17 | "Dascomb has a charm about it, but that charm might just be us."

Going Back Home

posted by Andres Cuervo '17 | A small listing of differences between home and Oberlin/ Harkness.

A Few Things I've Learned

posted by Andres Cuervo '17 | A short list of some things I've realized since orientation.

On Being Back: Part I, My Orientation Life

posted by Karalyn Grimes '16 | I had a summer. Then I came back here. Lots of stuff happened before and during Orientation, and I tell you all about it. After Orientation there's been a lot of schooling. And there's more on that to come.

Class of 2017: Keep Calm and Read On

posted by Karalyn Grimes '16 | ATTENTION OBERLIN CLASS OF 2017: TAKE A DEEP BREATH. EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE IS GOING TO BE OKAY. Roommate information is coming soon, I promise. In the meantime, here's something to distract yourselves.

FAQ for Incoming First Years

posted by Dara Lehrer '16 | Do you have the pre-orientation jitters? Are you at all anxious to leave home and come live in a place you've probably never spent a formidable amount of time at before? Do not fear! I am here to try and alleviate some of that anxiety.

An Argument for Vagrancy, an Argument for Home

posted by Dara Lehrer '16 | My books, my clothes, my hair even, are scattered all over the place-- all over my room, my friends' rooms, my room in Tucson. It's hard not to be scatter-brained when everything else seemingly is.

The Life of Eggboy

posted by Ruby Turok-Squire '16 | Cactus versus weed.

Many Thanks

posted by Ben Reid '16 | There are many things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. Here are just a few of them.

The Perks of Living in Dascomb

posted by Ben Reid '16 | Why is Dascomb the best freshman dorm on campus?

Vitamins, The Civil Wars, and Love: My Roomie and Me

posted by Karalyn Grimes '16 | Becca and I are obsessed with eating children's vitamins, listening to good folk music like The Civil Wars, and being the best of friends. Read on to learn about my experience living at Oberlin and living with another.


posted by Ben Reid '16 | Now I know we can't all be lucky enough to have a roommate whose biggest flaw is being a Yankees fan, but you can trust that the Oberlin ResEd department puts in a LOT of time to make sure that you and your roommate are a good match.

So, you live together?

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | Broaching that scary subject of co-ed living. Fact: it was the greatest thing to ever happen to me.

A Brief Introduction to Old B

posted by Ida Hoequist '14 | Thoughts on being part of the smallest of Oberlin's housing co-ops; written and illustrated by Nora, a veteran Old B member.

Cardboard Box Season

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On Being OSCAn

posted by Ida Hoequist '14 | It is not easy. But also: "It is rare to be a part of something big that is so tied to human nature and so hinges on humans communicating with humans." - Ma'ayan Plaut

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.

In My Room: The Positives and Negatives of My First-Year Experience

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Chinwe's Adventures in Eco-land

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Winter Raiders

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | Sci-Fi Hall decided to blow off some finals stress by dressing up as post-apocalyptic bikers, smearing fake blood on our faces, and raiding another theme hall. This happens from time to time.

The Battle of South Campus

posted by Eli Goldberg '12 | If it comes to pass that neither of these plans is favorable, it shall be known that Sci-Fi Hall and Classics Hall are officially "in a fight." Terms of war will be drafted, and we will meet you on the battlefield.

A Few Thoughts on Safe Spaces

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A Room With a View

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Stacks on stacks on stacks, of stuff.

posted by Chinwe Okona '13 | Hi, my name's Chinwe. I've got too much stuff and I'm terrible at packing.



Dascomb, Part Two

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Dascomb, Part One

posted by Ida Hoequist '14 | Things about the first-year experience dorm in which I experienced my first year: how I got there, how my friends got there, and what it was like while we were all there.


posted by Chinwe Okona '13 | Turns out even the pickiest eater can chow down co-op style.

A case-study in randomly-chosen roommate success

posted by Brandi Ferrebee '10 | Alexandra Anemone is not a character from Finding Nemo. She's a badass.

Living in the Harkland

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | In this post about OSCA, I am: a first-year, old, excited, and naked.

The Land of Fire: The Adventures of Patrick and Jordan

posted by Patrick Doherty '11 | Our intern lunches became a regular occurrence - we would swap stories about the craziest things that had happened to us that day (so many crazy things, all the time), gossip about whatever was going on on the Hill, and, on one special occasion, Jordan nearly ran into and almost knocked over Dennis Kucinich in the cafeteria in the Rayburn Building.

Cooperative Shenanigans

posted by Griff Radulski '14 | Tales of head cooking in Keep Co-op's kitchen, plus the answers to all the questions you never thought to ask. What does a CLEC do? How many parades has the Keep Parade Master led? And just what is that cutout of Captain Picard doing in the walk-in?

Smooth Move

posted by Joe Dawson '12 | My friend Tino and I debuted our 'Single Ladies' dance, and Twister didn't rehash awkward puberty memories, ending the party with my tears and cries of emotional pain, like it very easily could have.

Life in Narnia: Winter Term 2011

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | I'm going to be modeling the spread of information through social networks. Other people in the class are modeling swarms of locusts, a zombie infestation, and deformation of the magnetosphere by solar wind.

A Women's Hall Anecdote

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | Upon entering the hallway, I was greeted by the site of an overflowing water pitcher.

Roommates are ________.

posted by Chinwe Okona '13 | You should read this, especially if you don't like people.

Three unrelated vignette blog posts

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | All you need to know is that it's legit real-world stuff, and she hasn't even graduated yet. Some people just really have their lives together.

It's a Beautiful Day in the Roommatehood

posted by Ida Hoequist '14 | My satisfaction with the person I'd be living with for the next year wasn't a lucky fluke, it was widespread - possibly even universal.

More than a Room

posted by Marsha Lynn Bragg | A healthful living environment contributes to the idea of community, and creates a type of neighborhood...

Sci-Fi Hall!

posted by 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. Case in point: Sci-Fi Hall, where I now live.

Where I Live Now

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | Please note the lovely framed Animorphs poster and the lovely Penang flag.

Week one: no classes and already behind?

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | I thought I would have a pretty relaxing week, during which I could do things like unpack, hang up posters, and read all the YA novels that are still on my 'to read' list. That's not what's happened.

Hey Transfers!

posted by Brandi Ferrebee '10 | The transfer hall is this great jumping-off place. It's where new students that have attended another college can come get their bearings together and not feel like they are alone with their war-stories of places that didn't fit them.

Getting a House

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | By the time we signed the lease, the one thing that I really remembered about the house we were going to rent was that it had a huge bathroom.

Hey roomie

posted by Joe Dawson '12 | Well, no. I'm not actually going to talk about sex. Not no never. I've always been a believer that sex is sort of like music. You don't talk about making it. If you're good at it you don't talk about it. If you talk about it, you're not good at it.

Oberlin in the outside world?

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | There's the thumbs, but there's also a crude representation of a llama (apparently) to make a proposal and knocking in the air to signal agreement with a statement.

Hark is where the heart is

posted by Eli Goldberg '12 | I've spent the last week preparing to leave Harkness, the co-op where I've lived since my freshman year. So - to alleviate my own nostalgia, as well as give some info to folks who are filling out their housing forms - here's a little bit about Harkness.

Dear women's hall, you're the best

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | Then, abruptly, the year ended. Everyone went home.

Big Choices

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | Housing registration, class registration, and how I (probably) picked my major.


posted by Karl Orozco '13 | One can learn a lot about a person's home. Even MTV knows that.

Missin' You

posted by Joe Dawson '12 | I've been haunted in my sleep, you've been starring in my dreams, school I miss you...

Making ourselves at home

posted by Chris Gollmar '10 | Why live off campus?

Liquid days

posted by Megan Emberton '12 | Co-ops are wonderful, and the food is great. Do not worry, first years I've talked to who have expressed their doubts about this!

Labor Day: No Babies Allowed.

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | Way to rain on my Labor Day parade, Ohio. Even after four years, I still don't understand your weather patterns.

Desk Quest

posted by Will Mason '10 | Yard sales, integrating into the Oberlin community, and the hunt for the perfect antique desk.

Housekeeping, or The Secret Life of oBEErlin-ites

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | I mentioned before that the first few weeks of college equals '50s housewife meets college student: shopping for classes, ironing out schedules, and cleaning and unpacking all belongings, and if the weather doesn't take the temperature dip it did a few days ago, flowery dresses and sunglasses.

Winding Down, Gearing Up

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | It suddenly hit me that I have only four days left at my internship at La Opinion, and only two weeks left in LA.

Helpful Hintz, Yo!

posted by Joe Dawson '12 | There is no required reading for freshmen at Oberlin, but a quick flip through Lord of the Flies could be real helpful.

Parallel Universes

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | I have just passed the two week point of being home for the summer. And since this is an Oberlin blog, this is about what's different at my summer home and my Oberlin home.

A vignette from finals week

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | Luck, however, was with us, in the form of a front loader.

What's that about the bathrooms?

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | You may or may not have heard that the bathrooms are gender-neutral at Oberlin. This may or may not concern you, your parents, or someone else whom you hold dear.

The Joys of Cooperative Dining

posted by Daniel Tam-Claiborne '09 | Thankfully, there were senior members who talked me through the best ways to peel garlic, fry potatoes, and make an omelet. Never would I have imagined that a group of students could be efficient and capable enough to orchestrate what functioned like a self-contained dining hall.

Life in a Cardboard Box

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | Remember how I mentioned there are all these distractions during reading period and finals? Ah, yes, there is another one I failed to mention earlier, and that is PACKING.

Breakfast in my PJs, knitting parties, Oberlin Christian Fellowship, & kittens

posted by Yitka Winn '09 | There's something cool about occupying spaces that have so much history in them, so many Obies who've lived there in the past...

Committee meetings are better over lunch

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | I got a little overzealous and started quizzing people on their "action items," which I think only confused the issue.

Uncle OSCA Wants YOU To Scrub the Toilets!

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | I got into Harkness co-op the summer before my freshman year and have stayed loyal to the Harkness flag ever since. This year, I think I am the oldest and most experienced veteran Harkness resident. Just call me Auntie Harkness.

Al Franken and Garrison Keillor have Endorsed this Blog Post

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | Inside, podcasts of A Prairie Home Companion ushered Keepers and visitors into the dining room where we filled our plates and other eating receptacles with hamburger noodle hotdish, green bean casserole, wild rice, powdermilk biscuits, and jello with Swedish fish before heading outside to the sunshine.

Housing (or, new methods of procrastination)

posted by Zoë McLaughlin '11 | It must have looked pretty odd--all those mini lanterns hanging from tree limbs and about five of us with cans of spray paint looking like members of a graffiti ExCo, but you get my point.

My Valentine, or, the sappiest entry ever.

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | Things I didn't expect from college: Moving in with the boyfriend.

Pizza Night at Keep

posted by Daniel Tam-Claiborne '09 | I learned that there is a certain art to pie-making, kneading from the center out, making sure that the middle isn't too thin, and being careful to leave a slightly raised border along the outside so there's some semblance of crust after it bakes.

Moving in and life off campus

posted by Chris Gollmar '10 | Last Sunday I moved into my house for this semester. Now I officially live off campus.

Hallo, ich heiße Megan!

posted by Megan Emberton '12 | I am here to take Intensive German in an effort to shove enough grammar and vocabulary into my head to take German 102 in the coming semester.

Flavor Trippin'

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | It looked delicious... but we were told we couldn't eat yet. It is an extremely sadistic thing to show us food and tell us we can't partake. I was ready to dive in. But there was a reason.

The House Hunt

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | Off-campus status is both a blessing and a curse...but mostly a blessing.

At the 'Kid: Fellowship and Seasonal Gluttony

posted by Nicolee Kuester '10 | As a rule, I try to avoid soaking in sicky-sweet pools of sentimentality (diabetes does, after all, run in my family), but when I talk about Thanksgivings at Fairkid I can't help but get that soft-eyed, distant-smile expression that means I've departed for that Lisa Frank horror-land of happy candy clouds and rainbow koalas.

Haphazard Packing Tips from an Incorrigible Slob

posted by Will Mason '10 | The worst part of college is getting there.

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