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Feature Story
reed magazine logoAutumn 2008

Theme Dorm: Why Not?

Following the decision to live on campus, a student may request to live in one of six distinct building clusters that vary in style, size, and atmosphere. Within these clusters, room options include singles, doubles, and a few triples. Six professional staff members act as residence directors for each of the groups; they provide leadership, training, and ongoing support to 51 student house advisers. Last year, housing advisers programmed more than 250 events aimed at building community, both on campus and in the greater Portland area.

In addition, students have the opportunity each year to create a living environment centered on a specific area of study or interest. These are called theme dorms, and they might occupy a hall or a wing or an entire building, depending on interest. Along with the house adviser, activity coordinator, and theme-dorm organizer, residents work together to plan events that reflect their theme. These activities, open to the campus community, are often social, educational, or both, and may involve faculty members or staff members with related interests or expertise. Some themes, all of which come from student proposals, are long-standing— like Mad Science, Co-Op, and Substance Free. Others change yearly. Below is a selection of theme dorms for the 2008–09 academic year, with descriptions by theme dorm organizers.

The Co-Op

The Co-Op is a close-knit group of dreamers, thinkers, activists, and artists shopping, cooking, and cleaning communally. All members of the Reed community are welcome to the dorm’s nightly dinner, which is always vegetarian- and vegan- friendly and emphasizes local and organic food. The Co-Op makes major decisions communally, with special attention paid to the free exchange of opinions in a supportive environment.

Tea House

A Tea House resident awakens Saturday afternoon after a long night of activity; as soon as he opens the door he is greeted by the smell of jasmine vines and the smooth sound of a Miles Davis trumpet solo coming from the common room. Two residents are seated across from each other making quiet small talk, only pausing to pour themselves more tea from the kettle. Another sits off to the side, buried in a book. The new arrival grabs a cup from the shelf, and joins the conversation.

Ancient Civilizations

This doesn’t mean conquering the next dorm over and claiming their women. It does mean eating dormice, artfully wearing your bed linens to class, and reveling in your love of pre-Dark Ages history and culture.

Middle Eastern Culture

Sheesha, Israel, Farsi—oh my! What do the following things have in common: monotheistic religions, camels, oil, falafel, and the average Reedie. The answer? They all have a place in the Middle Eastern Culture Dorm. Join us and explore this diverse region’s past, present, and future.

Tír na nÓg

Tír na nÓg, Gaelic for “the land of the ever-young,” is a community of people who love bonding over fantastical stories, games, quests, movies, and much more. Remember when Gimli and Legolas had an Orc-slaying contest? LABYRINTH?? Or when Harry Potter finally found the philosopher’s stone? WILLOW?? Or when Rand Al’Thor first encountered Trollocs? HIGHLANDER?? In Tír na nÓg all are welcome!

Mad Science

Mad Science welcomes those who love science and who wish to live among others with similar interests. Our close-knit community is friendly, diverse, and inclusive, and we participate in a wide variety of activities ranging from making ice cream with liquid nitrogen to weekend science fiction viewings.


A congregation of connoisseurs, a gathering of media enthusiasts, a commune of artists and art-addicts, a home for the devoted mediavores who want to discuss, enjoy, and make the best in the auditory and visual. Come join the collective, and bring your tastes with you.

Green Dorm

Reedies with green thumbs live in the Green Dorm, a dorm decorated with potted plants, flowers, and a vegetable garden. Aside from our obsession with chloroplasts, our theme includes an interest in environmental health—including our dorm environment, which we make welcoming, supportive, and unofficially substance-free—and the beautification of urban areas. Flower-children and tree-huggers unite!

reed magazine logoAutumn 2008