Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Special Interest Communities Program

Q House members 2019-2020

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 and associated costs, view the Columbia Housing website

Questions about Special Interest or Themed Communities? Please review our frequently asked questions below or reach out to Assistant Director of Special Interest Communities Cliff Jacobs at

Frequently Asked Questions

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

All Housing locations and costs of accommodations can be found on the Housing website. Prior to applying to a community, all applicants should take into account the cost associated with each housing option. 

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

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

For the 202122 academic year, Themed Communities will only be located on the first three floors of the SIC House at 619 West 113th Street. For more specific information regarding SIC House building location and cost of such accommodations, refer to the Housing website.

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

For Special Interest Communities, all assignments are done by the houses internally. Assignments are typically done 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. 

For Themed Communities, you are placed after the communities are established so you most likely will not know of the type of theme before applying. Placement in one of our Themed Communities is not guaranteed and depends heavily on space availability. If there are vacant spaces in one of our Themed Communities, you may be placed there if you indicated that particular interest or a related interest on your application. All individual applicants for Themed Communities will receive email correspondence from the Assistant Director of Special Interest Communities mid-January regarding the community themes of the upcoming year. 

What if I am interested in multiple Special Interest Communities or both Themed Communities and 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.

If you are interested in being considered for both Special Interest Communities and Themed Communities, you must fill out each application separately. 

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 Assistant Director of the Special Interest Communities, Cliff Jacobs at There will be a variety of advertised events and information sessions for interested applicants to attend to learn more about living within Special Interest or Themed 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 or Themed 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. During this time you will have the option to decline the offer. That said, if you accept and back out later, there will be repercussions. Acceptance into the Special Interest or Themed Communities 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 or Themed 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?

Unfortunately at this time, the Special Interest and Themed Communities options are only able to accept students with guaranteed housing. However, should rooms/spaces be available later in the semester or over the summer, all residents, despite the guaranteed housing expectation, will be considered.

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

The Special Interest Communities is only able to accommodate students affiliated with Barnard College in certain communities. Barnard students are not eligible to live in any of the Themed Communities nor establish a new one. 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
  • Pan-African House
  • Q House

Graduate students and students in the school of General Studies are not eligible to live in an SIC. 

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

Each Special Interest Communities member must fill out an intent to return survey administered by the assistant 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.  

Themed Communities are one year contracts. Should a Themed Community or members in a community want to return for the following year, they must submit a new application during recruitment season in the fall semester.

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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