Special Interest Communities
What is a Special Interest Community?
A Special Interest Community (SIC) is a group of students who choose to live together based on a shared interest in a specific topic. This group, with the support of Community Living and an Advisor, will set goals together and will work toward achieving those goals through shared experiences and community building.
Examples of Special Interest Community topics include social justice, sustainability, outdoor leadership, American sign language, film… Literally anything that you can think of!
Programs that a Special Interest Community could have included dinner with faculty who share your interest, community service as a group, baking, fundraising for charity, making door decorations together… again, the sky's the limit!
Each SIC will designate an advisor who will serve as an active contributor to the community for the duration of the academic year. The advisor should be someone who is not on the Community Living staff and who is a faculty or staff member at Hamilton College. Students cannot serve in the role of advisor for SICs.
Advisors will meet with the participants of the SIC in the beginning of each semester to help with setting goals and establishing a path to achieving those goals. The Program Coordinator will connect regularly with the advisor to keep them updated on what is happening in the community and to seek guidance on the planning of upcoming events.
Rosters for each SIC will be shared with the Advisor by Community Living just prior to the start of the academic year.
The Program Coordinator will typically be the student who proposed the SIC topic. This student will be the main point of contact between Community Living, the advisor and the other students in the SIC. The Program Coordinator will meet with the Advisor and the Associate Director of Community Living once every two weeks. Responsibilities of the Program Coordinator include communicating with all parties involved, working with their advisor and Community Living on the logistics of programs the community is planning and being a leader within the group of participants in the SIC.
The Program Coordinator is not a Community Advisor and does not hold accountability authority over other students within the community. The Program Coordinator should work with the community to develop community expectations, but those expectations cannot fall outside of College policy and are not enforceable through the student conduct system. Any concerns about the behavior or dynamics of others within the community should be shared either with Community Living or with the CA responsible for the area where the community is located. Either Community Living or the CA will assist in providing appropriate support based on the issue.
The Program Coordinator must be in good conduct standing with no prior history of negative behavior in a Special Interest Community.
Participants of Special Interest Communities should be interested in the designated topic and in building relationships within the community. Members should participate in community events and engage with other members of the community on a regular basis, when possible. Members should also plan to attend at least one meeting a month with the rest of the community.
The Office of Community Living
Community Living will serve in a support role to the Program Coordinators and the members of each of the SICs. Community Living will help to manage the budget, work to keep lines of communication open and will help with logistics for programming and events that each community plans. It will also be the role of Community Living to ensure the theme of each community is being implemented as expected and that programming is being appropriately offered.
The CA role in SICs will vary depending on the needs of the community. Generally, the CAs for upper class SICs will not hold a leadership role outside of their regular duties unless arranged ahead of time with Community Living. The CA will support the community, coordinate with the Program Coordinator as needed and will otherwise maintain their regular position.
CAs for first year SICs may be more involved with the programming and coordination process, depending on the needs of the partnering office.
Community Expectations, Goals and Programs
At the start of each semester, the Program Coordinator should bring together all members of the community to develop expectations for the group. This should include how the group will communicate with each other, setting boundaries around the use of personal and group materials, and strategizing ways to make sure all members feel included along with anything else applicable to the group. This should be reviewed as a group at the start of the spring semester and edited as appropriate based on new membership and/or in response to any issues encountered in the fall semester, or based on feedback received from the Office of Community Living. The Program Coordinator is responsible for providing this information to the advisor as soon after it is finalized with the group as possible.
Each SIC should work together within the first two weeks of the semester to set goals for that semester. Goals do not need to be extensive and should be a guide for what the community hopes to achieve by the end of the semester. The advisor for the community should be an active part of this process and final goals should be shared with Community Living by the Program Coordinator as soon as they are finalized.
Each SIC will plan programs and events for the members of that community. Each community is expected to plan and execute at least one program per month related to the topic starting within the first two weeks of the start of each semester. It is an option to open the program or event to additional members of the Hamilton community, but it is not required. The goal of programming is to build bonds between community members and to further develop the group toward the achievement of goals set at the beginning of each semester.
The budget for SICs will be determined by Community Living based on the size of the community and the resources available. The budget amount will be communicated to the community at the beginning of each semester with a note that if additional funds are needed, the students should submit a proposal for what funding is needed and why, so that Community Living can seek additional funding sources if possible.
Community Living and Special Interest Community Advisors are excited to work with students and to invest resources in building communities around a shared interest. In order to make sure the resources are used wisely, and each Special Interest Community is having a positive impact on its members, Community Living reserves the right to disband any Special Interest Community that is not meeting these expectations. Community Living will make reasonable efforts to support Special Interest Communities by working with the members and advisor to develop a plan for improvement prior to dissolving the group and will determine after a set amount of time whether or not the community should continue to operate. If it is determined by Community Living that the community should not continue to be a designated Special Interest Community then members will be notified, and next steps will be taken. These steps may include relocation of some or all members depending on the circumstances of the decision. Students will be included in the decision-making process anytime it is possible and appropriate.
If a Program Coordinator is removed from the community, Community Living will make every effort to assist the community with establishing a new Program Coordinator and continuing to build the community if the remaining students still have an interest in doing so.
Special Interest Communities are meant to be a place where students seeking connections to others can find meaningful relationships and experiences. No member of any community is permitted to exclude any other member within or outside of the community for any reason. Should Community Living become aware of exclusion or discrimination happening, proper action will be taken to resolve the issue. This may include the removal of the person or people responsible for the disruption or the disbanding of the entire community along with any other action Community Living determines is necessary. Students will be included in the decision-making process whenever possible and appropriate.
Process for Creating an Upper Class SIC
Where are SICs located?
The location for each SIC is selected by Community Living during the application and approval process in the Spring semester for the following academic year. Students can include in their proposals anticipated facilities needs and this will be taken into consideration during the placement process within Community Living.
Locations for returning SICs are subject to change from year to year depending on availability and evaluation of previous placements. There will be three locations for the 24-25 academic year, and one community will be selected for each location.
What is the difference between a SIC for First Year students and a SIC for non-First Year students?
First Year SIC topics are set by Community Living based on common themes in housing questionnaires from prior years and availability of campus partners for facilitation during the year. Previous FY SIC topics include WOLF (Wilderness and Outdoor Leadership Floor), CORE (Community Outreach Residential Experience) and Mindfulness. Incoming First Year students can request consideration for placement in one of these communities by indicating so on their housing questionnaire and answering a few short questions. Each community has a designated office or advisor on campus who will partner with the community to facilitate programming around the specified topic area with direction coming from residents of the community.
Upper class SIC topics are proposed by students and are selected by Community Living through an application process. Students in these SICs will come together and drive all aspects of their community process with the assistance of Community Living and their designated advisor.
Process of Applying for an UC SIC
If a student has an idea for a special interest community for the following academic year, they can propose it by using the Special Interest Community Topic Application in their Housing Account during the open application period. If their topic is chosen, they become the Program Coordinator. No current community will be considered without a new application. Prior status as a community does not guarantee approval for the new academic year.
Applications are reviewed by Community Living Staff. After the applications are reviewed, interviews are conducted with the applicants and their chosen advisors, if needed, so that more details about the proposal can be discussed. After the interviews are concluded, Community Living staff determine which SICs will be offered to the student body.
Once the topics are selected, applications for each topic are then opened to the student body, and anyone interested in joining a particular community is able to apply.
Students who are applying to join a SIC can do so with a friend who they would like to share a room with! Both students must complete individual applications to join the community, and both must request each other as a roommate on their application.
Process for Selecting Students for an UC SIC
Once the provisional topics are selected, applications for each topic are then opened to the student body, and anyone interested in joining a particular community is able to apply using an individual application.
If a provisionally accepted community does not receive enough applicants to fill the assigned location, the community will not be approved. Communities will range from 11-20 students.
If the number of received individual applications for any particular community can fit into the assigned housing location that meets the needs of a community, then Community Living will make attempts to include all students who applied to live within a community. However, assignment to a Special Interest Community is not guaranteed and is dependent on available space, the content of the application submitted and prior record of behavior in Special Interest Communities.
If a large number of students apply for any particular community, and eliminations must be made, the following process will be used:
- If the SIC was in place the previous year, any current member in good standing will most likely be placed back into the community.
- Remaining applications will be numbered randomly, and all identifying information from each application will be removed.
- A member of Community Living, the SIC advisor, and the SIC Coordinator, will each review the applications and score each individual application question from 1-5.
- The scores will be added up, and the students will be ranked by score. The highest scoring students will be offered a space in the SIC. Those remaining will be placed on a waiting list to be included.
Special Interest Community Offerings for the 2023-24 Academic Year
First Year Communities:
Community Outreach Residential Experience (CORE)
Description: CORE works to weave both on- and off-campus community engagement into a student’s first year residential experience. They will live with a group of first-year students in an atmosphere where there will be opportunities for projects, discussion, and reflection around social justice, creating change, and issues in our local community. Students will engage in things such as working with refugees in Utica (which has one of the Northeast’s largest refugee populations), volunteering with a local Down Syndrome residence, tutoring in nearby underserved school districts and more. The CORE Floor will be staffed by both a CA who is experienced in outreach work and a sophomore mentor, who will arrange occasional dinners, movie nights, discussions, and volunteering opportunities. Students will meet Hamilton faculty and local community partners, who can be resources for them as they settle into Hamilton’s lively culture of service and discover how to make an impact.
Location: Section of Keehn
Advisor: Amy James
Wilderness and Outdoor Leadership Floor (WOLF)
WOLF is a community that is focused on Outing Club and Outdoor Leadership opportunities. Living on this floor isn't the only way students can bond with the outdoor community at Hamilton, but it will give them a strong base to start their college outdoor life. The CA will be a great resource, and there will be evening activities and weekend trips just for students in this community. This is an equal opportunity and no experience required program. All backgrounds and beliefs are welcomed — the community is tied by their love of things outdoors.
Location: Basement of Dunham Hall
Advisor: Sarah Skoy
Upper Class Communities:
Video Gaming Community
In the Video Gaming Community, they aim to create a diverse and friendly community that accepts anyone. The community is in its 4th year and consists of hobbyists and massively passionate gamers alike. The video game community welcomes anyone and everyone. They want to create a space where everyone knows each other, interacts with each other, and gets along well with each other, especially through the medium of games. All types of games are welcome. Their goals for the 2023-2024 year will revolve around attempting to do more in-person events on and off campus. They plan various weekly events, like watching movies, making group dinners and ... playing games!
Location: Two suites in Milbank
Advisor: Forrest Warner
Program Coordinator: Divyam Karuri
MOSAIC: Multidisciplinary Opportunities to Share Art Interest Community
MOSAIC is dedicated to intersecting art practices of our members and promoting free and collaborative creative expression. Our goal is to provide a supportive environment for creative development across multiple disciplines, including photography, pottery, music, painting, design, and more. MOSAIC is a space for art majors, minors, or those just interested in art to be able to share ideas, resources, materials, and create art together in their personal spaces. We want to promote collaboration and learning from each other, as well as give those who can't fit art into their schedules a chance to create. We hope to connect creatives looking to take risks, collaborate, and try something new!
Location: Woollcott House
Advisors: Robert Knight and Onno Oerlemans
Program Coordinators: Christina Stoll and Carter Megalli
CORE-U: Community Outreach Residential Experience for Upper Class Students
CORE-U aims to create a welcoming community centered around a commitment to volunteering, and an encouraging environment to share various stories and experiences. By connecting with community partners and being peer advisors, we hope to create lasting, positive impacts on those around us. CORE-U will organize service days, during which members will go off-campus to volunteer at different locations. Other programs include food drives, clothing drives, and serving as peer advisors to students who are a member of CORE (the first year special interest community).
Location: A section of Root Hall
Advisor: Amy James
FMC- Filmmaking Community
FMC is a community for film lovers - a place where students can explore their passion for film through shared experiences, workshops, and small group activities. FMC is centered around filming and all that goes with it (shooting, editing, acting, working with sound and music, screenwriting, etc). Students live together and learn about the process of creating films and how to better express themselves through the medium. Students will work on collaborative filmmaking, and will develop an understanding of the film creation process and a creative portfolio. We will watch films of different genres that will help provide members with an understanding of cinematic history and create opportunities for meaningful discussions. Collaboration will lead to new projects, allowing FMC students to expand their knowledge and creativity and be connected to other students who hope to do the same.
Location: 120 College Hill Road
Advisor: Mark Cryer
Program Coordinator: Varvara Aristakesyan
GLEN: Group that Loves the Environment and Nature
GLEN is a place for people who love to be outside and go on outdoor adventures. We value respectful environmental practices such as LNT to ensure that all members take care of the world around us. We welcome all nature enthusiasts, whether you have experience in the outdoors or not. Programming activities will include guided Glen walks, hikes, other outing adventures on and off campus, a camping trip in the HOC campsite in the Glen, and communal dinners focused on vegetarian living and locally sourced foods. We hope to spend more time exploring the Glen, which is an amazing natural space Hamilton has to offer. GLEN will promote outdoor stewardship at Hamilton by respecting the nature around campus.
Location: A section of Root Hall
Advisor: Sarah Skoy
Program Coordinator: Sarah Walcott
FIMC: Friends Interested in Mediterranean Cultures
FIMC is a community that focuses on Mediterranean culture, and explores this culture through dance, music, literature, and food! We will make connections with various departments and clubs such as GRIA, Hispanic Studies, ISA and Cultura Italian. We believe that the most efficient way to get to know a culture is through events that are immersive, such as music, traditional dancing, movie nights, and food. We hope to host open events with themes of the Mediterranean where members of FIMC will better grasp unique traditions and customs. By hosting events, more people will have the opportunity to be introduced to the traditions and customs of the countries of southern Europe and northern Africa. During these events, the community members will get a glance of the history behind the rich cultures of the Mediterranean.
Location: A section of Bundy East
Advisor: Cecily Cai
Program Coordinator: Maria Ioannou
The Mindfulness-U Community looks to create an intentional community at Hamilton College where mindful approaches to all aspects of life are nourished and encouraged together. We seek a living environment where a commitment to community is a primary value, and where common times during the week for meals and holistic cooking are offered. We envision setting aside certain regular times for silent meditation or journaling or artistic endeavors. We will coordinate, in conjunction with the Mindfulness Interns of the chaplaincy, special programs such as yoga, stretching exercises, and outdoor meditative walks and invite the larger campus community to participate with us. We would like to create a space where plants flourish, art covers the walls, musical interests are shared, and quiet time respected, all with the intention of deepening a sense of mindful practice.
Location: Saunders House
Program Coordinator: Audrey Alix
Important Dates for 24-25 Process
Special Interest Community Topic Proposal Application Opens
Special Interest Community Topic Proposal Application DUE
Individual Applications for Special Interest Communities open
Individual applications to join a Special Interest Community are DUE
Students will be notified that they have been selected to be a member of a SIC on or around this date.