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Roommate Revolution

Thirty-four years ago, Oberlin roused national attention when its “innovation in campus living”—otherwise known as co-ed dorms—occupied a 10-page photo spread in LIFE with such teasing headlines as “Men around the house can be useful—and fun, too” and “An awkward balance of love and privacy.”

So perhaps it’s a testament to changing times that not even the local press made mention of Oberlin’s announcement last spring to introduce co-ed rooms in Noah Hall this fall.

Kim LaFond, associate dean and director of Residential Life and Services, says the move is not meant to encourage romantic cohabitation, but instead to offer gender-neutral living spaces for students un- comfortable with same-sex roommates. Oberlin joins a small group of liberal arts colleges already offering mixed-gender rooms, including Swarthmore, Brown, Wesleyan, and Haverford. The option is not available to first-year students.

“We in Residential Life have been discussing co-ed rooms for a number of years,” says LaFond. “The key thing to remember is that we want to foster friendships and healthy relationships. Boundaries such as single-sex rooms limit the opportunity for a student to reside with someone who they feel comfortable living with and sharing space.”

A handful of upperclass students have requested such rooms for fall.

Photos by Emily Miraldi '06

Colors of Rhythm

Ten student dance groups shook the old floor boards of Finney Chapel as they entertained and educated their peers with traditional cultural dances during this year’s Eighth Annual Colors of Rhythm (ACR) performance. Founded in 1997, the event has traditionally provided a forum for northwestern and non-European dance. This year's performers presented dance forms from Africa, the Middle East, America, Latin America, Japan, and Polynesia. The program was dedicated to Rachel Beverly, director of the Multicultural Resource Center. Proceeds from the event were donated to the Oberlin Boys and Girls Club.

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