Oberlin is a very accepting/diverse campus in terms of race, religion, gender identity, economic status, and other groups. There are program houses if you wish to experience a support group and these living arrangements have campus wide programing, special events, and great resources at your service. People here don't judge you by what you are classified as in terms of religion, economic status, gender, race but they consider your talents, your strengths, your personality, your knowledge, your capacity to share that knowledge, and to make a difference in the lives of others at Oberlin and in the world while becoming a stronger person yourself, whoever that may be. Students will be supported with their needs and their beliefs in many ways and other students always reach out and help. There are many groups and if the one you want doesn't exist, start it and chances are you'll quickly have others joining in with you. A student that is very close-minded, materialistic, and unmotivated would probably not fit in here. But the thing about Oberlin is, everyone fits in...when you add your own strokes to the painting and the overall picture is even more interesting than it was before. Students where what they feel like wearing. In class you could see someone dressed as a clown next to someone wearing a business suit, next to someone who didn't want to get out of their pj's, who's across from someone dressed head to toe in Abercrombie and Fitch. It just doesn't matter what's on your head, it's what is in it that we care about. And not necessarily in class, but nakedness is OK here too. The four tables question. Hmmm. Alright. Table 1 - International students (You're sitting in the next table with your friend from Hong Kong who is translating what they are saying for you so you both can laugh) Table 2 - Conservatory voice majors (Singing between bites. Obviously) Table 3 - The Cross Country team (usually discussing robots or indiana jones, possibly spring break plans or a super awesome dance party in the making) and Table 4 - Freshman Crazies. (Tightly bonded groups of freshman who like to play with their food, make loud animal noises, do spontaneous performance art pieces, and sometimes discuss the implications of spatial awkwardness created by the layout of the mailroom. Again generalization (there are SO many exceptions) But Oberlin students are generally from bigger cities in New York, Chicago, California. Most students come from middle class-upper middle class families whose parents are college graduates and hold good jobs. This campus is one of the most politically aware and active in the country, historically and presently. It's a good reputation to have. Stuents for the most part are quite left-wing but there are also many exceptions to this rule. And it goes without saying that all views are accepted, sometimes questioned, but definitely accepted. I mean, talking about your future job/pay doesn't really dominate conversation here. We're more of a live-in-the-moment type crowd.
In general I've found Oberlin to be an extremely accepting place. It is rightly known as a liberal school but there is also a respect for the more conservative voice when debates arise. Oberlin students tend to be very passionate about the issues they care about but not everyone is organizing protests. There are many ways to promote awareness of issues on campus from sidewalk chalk, to talking with the administration, to holding concerts to raise money for certain causes. Oberlin as a whole is rather secular but there are religious opportunities for everyone. The most populous religions on campus seem to be Judaism, various Christian religions, and Islam. There is actually a fair amount of inter-faith cooperation because the religious communities are smallish. Oberlin is very aware of LGBT issues and generally goes out of its way to make LGBT students feel welcome and accepted. I have to admit I'm not very aware of the socio-economic background of most people on campus. I tend to feel that the upper middle class is the most highly represented but that could just be me. Because the dress at Oberlin is soooo casual that aspect of financial differences is almost completely lost.
The diversity is great- the problem is, sometimes groups can be exclusive. But I suppose you'll find that anywhere and at Oberlin it's less exclusive than it might be. A hardcore jock or preppy cheerleader type would feel out of place here. Students wear all sorts of strange things. Different types of students definitely do interact, but you might push people's buttons if the topic of safe spaces comes up. There really is no typical Oberlin student, except to say that most of us were sort of outcasts or weird in high school and most of us are very liberal. Many students are very politically active. Most are aware but don't really discuss it much or do anything about it. There are also a bunch who just don't really care about politics, but the admissions office wants you to think they don't exist. Students definitely do not talk about how much they'll earn one day. Ever. Except to say that many of us worry (jokingly) that we will one day be living in a box.
Oberlin is very diverse. Of recent, I feel like it has been getting slightly more homogenous in terms of economic background, with students being richer and richer, but I can't say for sure. Someone looking for a frat/ party school may not fit in to Oberlin right away. Most students don't care what they wear to class, but some people where onesies, and other people get decked out in 18th century garb on occassion. It just depends. A lot of Obies (oberlin students) are from California, New York, and Chicago. It's not too cliquey. A lot of students are politically active. mostly left. Not too many people are worried about money until after graduating, like me, for instance. I just graduated, and now I am just starting to worry about money. It depends on your background of course, but most people are more worried about other things than money. They want good opportunities and rich experiences. Money comes secondarily to that.
The captian of the football team often feels uncomfortable at Oberlin. Sometimes I have to admit I too felt uncomfortable with amount of openess others had regarding their sexual identities or personal choices. On a funnier note I remember students wearing everything from a bear suit to the pink panther suit to class. Which is maybe why it seemed weird to most people that I was the girl always in heels. There are cliques at Oberlin, just like in high school, but occasionally classes will bring people together. Stevenson is where this is most visable, the football players at one table, the other athletes at another, gays and transgenered sit together and then the people who still at Oberlin have social problems, they come and eat by themselves early.
It's a huge mix at Oberlin. I think there are more women than men, but its pretty even. I have friends from abroad, older, younger, gay, straight, bi, liberal, conservative, petty much every major out there, including Independent major. Some are on aid, some aren't. Some love stake, some are totally vegan. People are mostly leftys, and after Ohio residents from coastal cities or nearby areas (NYC, LA, the Bay Area, or Chicago), it influences their outlook. But I for one, coming from SF, welcomed the chance to be in a totally different environment, demographically, climatically, geographically. I learned a lot just from being there.
Oberlin has an extremely complex student body with what seems like as many groups as it has students. Those I have encountered fairly closely include the very strong LGBTQ community, which includes some of the most delightful people I have ever met, and the members of OSCA, the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (to which I belong). If you look hard enough, though, you will almost certainly find students at Oberlin who share any given interest with you and who will do so with zeal. It is worth noting that the students at Oberlin lean far to the left politically, and many of the groups on campus espouse some form of activism.
The average Oberlin student is white, fairly wealthy, and very liberal; LGBT and race issues are always at the forefront of discussion and awareness, which can make the transition to the less politically correct real world a shocker; Oberlin's extreme liberalism can sometimes take the form of secular dogmatism and strong anti-conservative attitudes; Republicans and devout Christians probably feel out of place at times; students come from a wide variety of financial backgrounds, thanks to the incredible amounts of financial aid offered by the College; very politically active student body.
The only types of students who would feel out of place at oberlin are probably the "preps" and "jocks" from high school, but even they have their groups. Everyone else is kindof just generally weird in the best way possible. Sometimes that means a little socially awkward; however you come to find it endearing. The students are politically aware and they are definately left-wing. Students wear almost anything to class. Some people look nice, some people come in their pajamas, one boy wears nothing but a bathrobe everywhere and always.
Social justice is very important here. A thriving LGBT community and lots of talk about race and class. Most people are quite open to everyone, but there are a few normies who get pissed off that kids at Oberlin aren't normal. They're definitely a minority though so its not a big deal. Everything from hipsters to punks to anarchists to moderate democrats to musicians to wierdos resides here. Good, interesting people. Have more to talk about than sports and clothes.