Special Living Options

Columbia prides itself on the diversity of the student body on campus. There are several special living arrangements that accommodate the needs and interests of our students. Special housing options are available for all students who wish to apply. Learn about certain eligibility requirements and process before applying.

About SIC Housing

The Special Interest Communities (SIC) Program is designed to promote the cultural, intellectual, and social development of students living in the undergraduate residence halls. SICs allow students with common interests to live together in a supportive environment and promote a unified campus by exploring the diversity within each community. SIC members serve as educational resources for a residential area, promote interaction with faculty and administrators in the Columbia community, and connect with community leaders beyond our gates.

Options

There are a number of SIC options for students to pick from, managed by Residential Life, or the Intercultural House (ICH) and Intercultural Resource Center (IRC), both managed by Multicultural Affairs.

Eligibility

Rising Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors within Columbia College and SEAS are invited to apply to SICs each year in advance of the Room Selection process. In some years, a process is opened to invite new communities into the residence halls. 

Barnard College students who are guaranteed housing are eligible to live with CC and SEAS students in select SICs.  Due to the Columbia-Barnard Housing exchange and the history of selection and placement in the respective communities, there is a cap on the number of BC students who can reside in select SICs.  Following is the BC cap for select SICs:

  • Pan African House – 2
  • Casa Latina – 2
  • Q-House – 2
  • IRC-ICH -4

Apply to the SIC Program

Visit the Special Interest Communities Program website for more information about SIC housing options and the application process. Students may also email the SIC Program with any further questions.

Visit the Intercultural Resource Center website for more information about the application process for the ICH. Students may also email Multicultural Affairs with any further questions..

Assignment Procedures

Residential Life and Multicultural Affairs provide SIC assignments to Columbia Housing prior to Room Selection. However, students who plan to reside in a Special Interest Community must register for Room Selection and complete a Housing application, including signing the Statement of Intent and Occupancy Agreement in the Housing Portal.

Students who fail to complete their Academic Year Housing application during the Room Selection registration period lose their guaranteed housing status and must follow the Non-Guaranteed Housing application process.

About Fraternity & Sorority Communities

Fraternal organizations are a part of Columbia University’s long-standing history and are sponsored by Residential Life/Fraternity and Sorority Life. Learn more about the Fraternity and Sorority community at Columbia, guiding values, and how to become a member. Some organizations have residences coordinated through Columbia Housing. Organizations must remain in good standing in order to continue the privilege of occupancy.

Eligibility

Members of a given chapter who are Columbia College, SEAS and Barnard College students with guaranteed housing are eligible to live in Fraternity and Sorority Housing. Due to the Columbia-Barnard Housing exchange and the history of selection and placement in the respective houses, there is a cap on the number of BC students who can reside in each space. Following is the BC cap for each organization: 

  • DG - 4
  • KAT - 5
  • AXO - 2
  • SDT - 4
  • ADP - 6

Apply to the Fraternity and Sorority Program

Contact Residential Life for more information about the application process.

Assignment Procedures

  • Students in Fraternities and Sororities who plan to live in FSL Housing must register during the Room Selection registration period.
  • Room assignments are made by the respective House Managers and are provided to Columbia Housing.
  • After assignments are made, students in Fraternity and Sorority Housing must log in to the Housing Portal to complete their Academic Year Housing application and indicate the corresponding category declaration, including completing the Statement of Intent step and the Occupancy Agreement step.

Students who fail to complete their Academic Year Housing application during the Room Selection registration period lose their guaranteed housing status and must follow the Non-Guaranteed Housing application process.

Room Swap and Room Transfer request forms within Fraternity and Sorority Housing must be signed by the RHD or the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life.

Please note that Fraternity and Sorority Housing is not available during summer session. 

For those students who express a need for housing accommodations due to gender expression or identity — for example, students who may feel more comfortable living with a particular gender or those who may desire additional privacy while transitioning—we recommend that they view our guidelines for Open Housing (available below) and these additional possible accommodations. 

In addition to Open Housing, the Housing application includes a field called “Other Housing Needs” where any student can request housing needs they may have (e.g. single-use bathroom, single apartment). Transgender students requesting a housing accommodation should share what specific needs they have in this space.

All housing accommodations will be reviewed by Housing in partnership with Residential Life and campus partners and resources on a case-by-case basis in order to meet the needs of each student.

Questions?

For further information regarding housing accommodations or to request a housing accommodation outside of application cycles, contact Housing at [email protected] or 212-854-2779. 

If you are in need of support during this process, please contact LGBTQ @ Columbia in the Office of Multicultural Affairs at [email protected] or 212-854-1675.

Resources

Students seeking additional accommodations or support may contact the following campus partners and resources:

Open Housing

Open Housing is an arrangement whereby two students, regardless of sex, gender, gender identity, or gender expression, are permitted to share a room in Columbia’s residence halls. Columbia's Open Housing approach aims to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for all students and to provide students, regardless of identity, more options for their living arrangements with their peers. Columbia Housing also continues to offer single-sex floors in select residence halls each year. Open Housing is not intended—and is highly discouraged—for romantic couples.

It is a student’s choice to tell their parents or guardian about the decision to live in an Open Housing arrangement. As with all housing decisions, Columbia Housing and the Office of Residential Life encourage students to talk with their parent(s) or guardian about their housing choices. Columbia Housing does not notify parents about the residential choices of students.

Eligibility

Any Rising Sophomore, Junior, or Senior at CC or SEAS who is at least 18 years of age and is guaranteed housing may participate in Open Housing in any of the residence halls. The option is also available to Barnard students who are at least 18 years of age. Open Housing is not available to incoming students, including first-year, combined plan, and transfer students.

Note: Although incoming first-year, combined plan, and transfer students are not eligible for Open Housing, they are able to request a housing accommodation by entering housing needs they may have in the section labeled “Other Housing Needs” on their Housing application.

Roommate Selection

For Open Housing, any two eligible students may choose to be roommates regardless of sex, gender, or gender expression. in any of the residence halls.

Residential Life and Housing discourage students who are in a romantic relationship from living together in a residence hall. However, we do not question any student's reasoning for wanting to live in Open Housing.

Students looking to live together as part of Open Housing must fill the room(s) and/or all beds in the room/suite to capacity—i.e. there must be an eligible student applying for every bed in the room(s) and/or suite. If a group that plans to participate in Open Housing cannot fully fill a suite and/or cannot select into a suite that fits the entire group, that group must select a configuration of rooms that fully accommodates every group member.

Room Selection

Open Housing follows the same policies and process as standard Room Selection.

Bathroom Style

Students forming groups for Open Housing should make sure they consider the bathroom style that will work for all group members. Many suite-style residence halls have shared private bathrooms, whereas corridor-style buildings often have male- and female-designated bathrooms in addition to one private single-use bathroom on each floor. Bathroom styles for each residence hall can be found under Explore Residences.

For a listing of gender-neutral restrooms on campus, please view this interactive map.

Cancellations & Room Transfers

If a roommate/suitemate cancels their housing or moves out of the room for any reason, the remaining roommate(s) must identify a new roommate to fill the vacancy as soon as possible. If another roommate is not identified, Housing will assign a same-sex roommate.

Questions

If you have questions, please reach out to the Housing team at [email protected] or (212) 854-2946. Students can also contact Residential Life with questions or concerns regarding Open Housing at [email protected].