Special Interest Communities Program

Q house members 2023-24

The Special Interest Communities (SIC) program offers two distinctive residential experiences to those interested in living among students with common identities or interests. Our Special Interest Communities create opportunities to impact the larger Columbia community through the implementation of educational programs, events and workshops in addition to fostering a connection to faculty, staff and alumni. Our Themed Communities provide students with an opportunity to cultivate community-building around a shared personal or academic interest. Both Special Interest Communities and Themed Communities offer students a unique experience as all members are encouraged to discover themselves while developing a shared community that comes together around similarities and differences alike.

For up-to-date information about upcoming programs and events sponsored by Special Interest Communities, follow our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. For more specific information about SIC locations, view the Columbia Housing website

Questions about Special Interest Communities? Please review our frequently asked questions below or reach out to Associate Director of Special Interest Communities Haley Carson at hc3081@columbia.edu

Questions regarding the Intercultural House (ICH) should be directed to Multicultural Affairs by emailing ichresidents@columbia.edu or Xaelah Jarrett.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to live in a Special Interest Community?

All Housing locations and costs of accommodations can be found on the Housing website

What types of bed spaces and amenities are offered within the Special Interest Communities?

Prior to applying to a Special Interest Community, all applicants should take a moment to view the bed spaces and amenities available as they vary between the Special Interest Communities. 

For more specific information regarding SIC House building locations, refer to the Housing website.

Will I get to select the house and/or room that I am living in?

All assignments are made by the houses internally. Assignments are typically made based on what is best for the relationships in the house and typically take into account seniority within the community. Applying to a Special Interest Community does not guarantee access to a single room. You are applying for a communal experience and not for the accommodations. 

What if I am interested in multiple Special Interest Communities?

On the Application Form, all applicants have the ability to select up to three Special Interest Communities as their preference. All applicants are encouraged to attend any recruitment events for each Special Interest Community indicated to learn more about what it is like to like in that particular Special Interest Community. Should an applicant be accepted into multiple houses after undergoing the recruitment process with each Special Interest Community they prefer, the applicant will be able to select or accept the Special Interest Community in which they want to live.

How can I learn more about the membership application and/or the communities themselves?

To learn more about the membership application and applying to either the Special Interest Community or Themed Community programs, please visit the SIC website or contact the Associate Director of the Special Interest Communities, Haley Carson at hc3081@columbia.edu. Questions regarding the Intercultural House (ICH) should be directed to Multicultural Affairs by emailing ichresidents@columbia.edu or Xaelah Jarrett. There will be a variety of advertised events and information sessions for interested applicants to attend to learn more about living within Special Interest Communities. Applicants are highly encouraged to attend any recruitment events so that they can see firsthand what it is like to live in each respective community.

What if I am accepted into a Special Interest Community but I change my mind about living there?

Applying for one of our communities is not the same as accepting membership. You will be given the option to accept your offer in February should you be selected for one of our communities. At this time, you will also have the option to decline the offer. That said, if you accept and back out later, there will be repercussions. Acceptance into a Special Interest Community is binding. Once an applicant confirms acceptance into the community of their choice, they are expected to move into their assigned room/space. If for some reason applicants want to cancel this room assignment, they will be considered “last” within the Housing Lottery process.

Are there any additional dues for being a member of a Special Interest Community?

There are no additional dues or costs to live within one of our communities. Residential Life provides a budget for each community to ensure they can meet programming requirements. 

What if I am not guaranteed housing?

Special Interest Communities are only able to accept students with guaranteed housing.  Students who have lost their guaranteed housing may receive an assignment via the Non-Guaranteed wait list.  If a student receives an assignment via the non-guaranteed waitlist, and rooms/spaces become available later in the summer, a non-guaranteed student may be considered.   

I am not a student within Columbia College or Columbia Engineering. Can I still live within a community?

The Special Interest Communities are only able to accommodate students affiliated with Barnard College in certain communities.  Per the guidelines of the Barnard Exchange program, Barnard Students are only permitted to apply to and live in the following Special Interest Community houses:

  • Casa Latina
  • Black Residential
  • Q House
  • Intercultural House (ICH) & Intercultural Resource Center (IRC)

Additionally, the Intercultural House can only accept a maximum of four Barnard students per academic year to reside in the community per the Barnard Exchange program guidelines. Graduate students and students in the school of General Studies are not eligible to live in any SIC. 

Do I have to reapply every year to join a Special Interest Community?

Each Special Interest Communities member must fill out an intent to return survey administered by the Associate Director of Special Interest Communities in the late fall. The intent to return survey is the "reapplication" process for all current SIC members as the survey inquires on member involvement such as attendance at programs and meetings, violations of community standards and other information that SIC leaders take into consideration on completing house rosters for the following year.  

Residential Life


515 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: 212-854-3612

Fax: 212-854-6815

Office Hours

9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

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