Reflections on the OASIS house
Living on campus is a huge part of any college experience. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to living arrangements. I knew I would be living in a dorm with at least one roommate, but every freshman was suffering from the anticipation of not knowing all the specifics of their dorms. “Triple or double? Where on campus? Hope my roommate isn’t too eccentric!” But, eventually the smoke cleared one glorious morning, and upon my computer screen I first laid eyes on the name of my roommate and dorm assignment. I was overjoyed to see that only one name was listed—yes, I am in a double—but was also horribly confused when I saw the word “OASIS” next to my dorm assignment. I had no idea what that meant. I figured it was in all caps, so it must be an acronym for something, right?
The only choices on the rooming form had been quiet, chemical-free or neither. I looked to the Colby website for answers, and after sifting through some vaguely related pages, I finally found the proposal that stated what OASIS was. Most of you probably know what it is or at least get the general idea, but I’ll recap for clarity. OASIS stands for Outings and Activities for Students Initiating Sobriety, so in short, everyone living in it lives a chem-free lifestyle inside and out of their dorms. “OK,” I thought, “that sounds nice, certainly makes sense for me to be placed there, that is how I live.” Still, it took a few weeks living in OASIS to fully understand what it was. I’ve heard some express their opinions about it: some think it’s a great idea, others don’t, and most don’t really care either way. I guess I’m just here to give a first-year resident’s perspective on things, since I know OASIS has already been written about in a general “this is what OASIS is” sort of way. I’m here to write about it in a “this is what living in OASIS feels like” sort of way.
Let me start by saying I do enjoy living in OASIS. Biggest plus: it’s quiet, really quiet. People have small get-togethers sometimes, though those don’t even last that late and aren’t that loud to begin with. I can study, do homework and—most importantly—sleep without any issue in my dorm room. And what you may call small and old, I call cozy and full of character. As my roommate informed me on move-in day, we are the proud occupiers of the second smallest double on campus. The size doesn’t bother me: we keep it organized and it feels comfortable. The idea of OASIS may not be completely developed yet, but we’re getting there. It recently became an official club, and more activities have been planned.
This aside, the idea itself is very comforting to me and, I believe, the many other freshmen placed in the dorm who simply do not want alcohol in their lives. Having Colby support this idea and be willing to devote an entire dorm to it makes me feel that my personal values are being respected. Rather than trying to ignore the subject of drinking or trying to give the impression I do drink to avoid criticism, I can just say the name of my dorm, and it’s out in open. The fact I don’t drink doesn’t have to be this big awkward secret. I can feel comfortable in my own home.
One of the concerns I have heard about OASIS is that it shelters its members and inhibits socialization with people who may drink. I personally haven’t felt as though this has happen. I have good friends who live in non-chem free dorms, and I attend on-campus events that are not tied to OASIS. I prefer to avoid the drinking scene, but I hardly think that makes a person anti-social. It’s not that I don’t like to have a good time, it’s just to me a good time doesn’t involve alcohol. I love my friends because of who they are, not for who they become when they drink. Though, it has been pleasantly surprising to see that, although people may drink, they don’t push it on others. This often is not the case in high school, but people here are mature enough to respect others’ life decisions.
It’s a relief to know my dorm life has worked out so well. I’m grateful for all the students I know who worked to make Piper OASIS possible. And as with any large project, you’re probably wondering if you’re truly making a difference, especially in the lives of first-years. Just to let you know, you definitely are.