Special-interest housing aims to foster individual growth, interpersonal relationships

Taylor Milam is the recovery coordinator for the Joan and Tom Skoro Collegiate Recovery Living Community. The community has 10 full-time residents and about 30 more who have access to the community and its activities.

Alex Gaub, News Contributor

Correction: The number of rooms available in Dixon Lodge was originally misstated and has been corrected. The Barometer regrets this error. 

Editor’s Note: The following article mentions substance use. Jack’s last name has been withheld for his anonymity. 

Jack is an Oregon State University student who is set to graduate at the end of spring term with a bachelor’s in computer science. Jack’s path through school hasn’t been the most traditional route, however. He has struggled with substance use in the past, leading him to have gaps in his time at college. Jack attended OSU from 2005 to 2007, returning in 2018 to finish his degree.  

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Life on campus can be difficult to navigate without the support of like-minded people. The rigors of study, work and life are stressful in even the best circumstances. At Oregon State, there are special-interest communities dedicated to helping students get the best out of their college experience, communities that aim to foster individual growth and interpersonal relationships.

The Joan and Tom Skoro Recovery Living Community is located in Dixon Lodge. It houses 10 residents this term who are full-time residents of the hall, 30 more students have access to the community and all of the activities there. The community is among only a few nationwide that provide housing for students seeking a sober living in college.

Jack became a resident of Dixon Lodge in the fall, prior to that he said he felt as though he was not connected to life on campus.

“Being involved here and moving here has given me a community, and that’s so important in recovery to have other people with similar experiences that you can relate to. We have activities here, we do stuff together, it’s huge,” Jack said.  

Dixon Lodge has 30 single rooms available, and right now they are only using 10. Taylor Milam, the recovery coordinator for Dixon Lodge is looking to change that. Milam, who is working towards a Master’s in social work has been the recovery coordinator for a year. Since he was hired as the first full-time coordinator, the amount of full-time residents has more than doubled.

“You really need someone central, who is here all the time to really start to work on bringing that community together,” Milam said. “Prior to me coming on there were a lot of students who were a part of the program that were in recovery, but they didn’t have those really deep intentional connections.”

One of the reasons Milam thinks that students don’t take advantage of Dixon Lodge is affordability. However, he has worked with donors to provide students living in the hall a scholarship that knocks the price to $600 out-of-pocket per month— including a meal plan. Typical university housing costs are over $1,000 per month for a single room that includes a meal plan.

Women in Engineering is another special-interest community on campus. Located in Buxton Hall on the fifth floor, the community is available for women in science, technology, engineering and math programs who want a closer group of students who share the same gender. Students on the floor have the opportunity to receive mentorship and coaching from one another.

The floor has 45 residents per term, and 20 rooms available for women in science fields. One of the draws for residents of Buxton Hall—including women on the fifth floor—is access to events in the building. Events can range from talks given by professors in the science fields to talks given about study abroad and what that looks like for engineering and science majors. 

“That’s usually one of our most active floors that has a lot of community built within itself. We usually try to have [a resident assistant] that has similar experiences or at least has some knowledge of what the experience is like on that floor,” said Christopher Bush, resident director of Hawley and Buxton Halls.  

Women in STEM fields face challenges that men don’t, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, only 30% of STEM degree-holders are women. Being a minority in the field can lead to feeling underrepresented at the university or in the workforce. The Women in Engineering Community aims to give women a place to study and network in a safe environment. 

“It’s important that we have that space within the residence hall itself, I think we can do what, we can, to bring women in engineering together, give them resources, and do events that are tailored to their experiences,” Bush said. 

A triple room in Buxton Hall runs for about $1,000 per month, including a meal plan. In addition to events for STEM majors, Buxton Hall also offers students access to the DAMlab, which is a workspace provided in partnership with the College of Business. The DAMlab houses a variety of tools and machines for working on school projects or even personal projects. 

Oregon State offers more options for special-interest groups on campus. Global Village is located in the International Living-Learning Center and is dedicated to helping develop students who have an interest in learning languages and exploring different cultures from other students. 

The Pride Community is located in Wilson Hall and is a space that aims to foster inclusion and development within OSU’s LGBTQIA+ community. 

Other special-interest communities on campus include the Transfer Communities located in Halsell, Bloss and Tebeau Halls, which is on-campus housing for second-year and above students located across campus. There are also Reserve Officer Training Corps residences for students in the ROTC programs, located in Finley Hall, as well as Single-Gender Communities located throughout campus.