Hamilton currently offers three first-year special interest communities: Community Outreach Residential Experience (CORE), Wilderness and Outdoor Leadership Floor (WOLF), and the Mindfulness Community.
These communities provide a unique atmosphere, as all residents have a common interest to which floor events are tailored. “For students who haven’t fully found their place, it’s a way to meet other students who have the same interests,” said Tanith Sherman, assistant director of residential life.
Drea Hacker ’26, a CORE resident, agrees. “Everyone gets along really well because we all care about volunteering. [This] helped the transition and feelings of loneliness and discomfort,” she said.
CORE residents are presented with volunteering opportunities by their floor’s coordinator. They have monthly events such as dinners with a guest speaker or casual get-togethers.
WOLF also provides special opportunities to its residents. Members had the chance to hike the Cascade and Porter mountains in the Adirondacks, and the floor has plans for a movie night, climbing wall event, and snowshoeing.
Amanda Browne ’25, the resident advisor for WOLF, shared the floor’s mission: “The main thing is to introduce students to all the outdoor leadership places on campus. It connects through years. There’s a sense of community, which is a combination of the people and the space.”
Communities for upperclassmen
While first-year communities are determined by the Residential Life Office, communities for sophomores, juniors, and seniors are proposed by students. “Students can propose anything. Their imagination is the limit. This is a student-run program, fully driven by them and their interests and what they want to have in their space,” Sherman said.
The current upper-class communities are the Video Gaming Community, Friends Enjoying Rocks and Nature (FERN), People Interested in Environmental Sustainability (PIES), Upper-Class Mindfulness, and the Spiritual Living Community.
PIES is in its inaugural year. The floor incorporates many sustainable living practices, from limiting showers to composting. Despite PIES being a new floor, resident Owen Dzierzgowski ’25 said the process has “not been really difficult at all. We're all like, 'OK, we're here for the common good of our planet, and we want to be a more sustainable dorm. ’ Everyone is willing to take part in everything.”
The Video Gaming Community is one of Hamilton’s longest running special interest floors. with four years running. Alexander Ruffer ’25 is a new member who has found it to be a welcoming and lively space.
“There’s always one or two people in the common room, a person in the kitchen. You walk into the house and something is always going on and you just join in,” he said. “A lot of people will play gacha games like Genshin together. We’ll put up Smash in the common room and on the weekends, we’ll all play Jackbox or other community games together.”
The Co-Op Interest Community
Co-Op, another upper-class community, is always offered by Residential Life and is focused on cooperative living and food. Resident Jenna McCarthy ’23 explained, “We cook dinner together, we clean together, we go grocery shopping, basically whatever it takes to put food on the table, someone is doing that.”
Co-Op residents are on a special meal plan. They receive only seven meals from the dining halls each week and have a budget to purchase necessary items for meal preparation — plus they contribute to the community by completing their assigned chores every week.
“On Sunday nights, we have a meeting to discuss how well the house is functioning, and at the end you sign up for chores for that week,” McCarthy said. “The time commitment is about five hours per week.”
Sherman summed up the advantage of special interest housing. “It’s an opportunity for students to explore certain things, to really dive into something in a meaningful way and learn about it and live that way,” she said.
Special Interest Communities
A Special Interest Community is a group of students who choose to live together based on a shared interest in a specific topic.