At Caltech we are committed to making sure students are connected to their peers and have the opportunity to live on campus in a community that is social, safe, and fun.
All our residential communities offer social support structures that create opportunities for student leadership. Each community is led by upperclass students who serve as Peer Advocates, Health Advocates, ARC representatives, SURF ambassadors, teaching assistants, and generally amazing sources of advice for succeeding at Caltech. In addition to student supports, residences also include Resident Associates, Residential Life Coordinators, and Faculty in Residence.
Caltech's unique House system is made up of eight distinct residential communities which have traditionally maintained the social and cultural traditions of the Caltech undergraduate experience. Students also enjoy fashioning their own community experience in the Bechtel residence. Bechtel offers students the chance to live on campus and meet students in the house system while offering space and resources for developing new community experiences, such as this year's new Theme Living Community options.
First year students (including transfer students and those returning from leave) are given the opportunity to participate in rotation. This is the formal, algorithm-driven structure for initial house affiliation. During rotation, first year students get to meet members of each house, participate in house activities that showcase their unique communities, and then rank the houses according to their preferences for house affiliation. After rotation, students may later pursue a house affiliation by getting to know the members and individually seeking membership through that house's membership process. Rotation is available only during the first year and cannot be deferred, whereas individual house membership is available throughout a student's career.
Students who opt for membership in one of the houses may live either in the house or in unaffiliated housing. If you choose not to be a member of a house, Caltech will ensure that you have housing in one of our unaffiliated housing options, most often Bechtel.
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The South Hovses are the oldest dormitories on campus. The housing options available are single, double, and triple capacity bedrooms, with the majority of rooms being singles. There are dining halls, lounges, kitchens and other house-specific common spaces throughout the buildings. All bathrooms in the South Hovses are gender neutral.
The North Houses were built in 1960 to accommodate the growing student population. The housing options available are double capacity bedrooms, with lofted beds accessible by ladders. There are dining halls, lounges, kitchens and other house-specific common spaces throughout the buildings. There are some gendered and some gender-neutral bathrooms in the North Houses.
Avery is the newest House, built in 1996. The housing options available are single and double rooms, but incoming freshmen live in doubles with adjustable lofted beds. There is a dining hall, lounges, kitchens and other common spaces throughout the building. There are some gendered and some gender-neutral bathrooms in Avery.
Bechtel, Marks & Braun
If students choose to forego the rotation process and remain unaffiliated, they will be eligible to participate in the Unaffiliated Housing Lottery to secure themselves housing in Bechtel, Marks, or Braun. These three locations are not affiliated with any house, and any student is eligible to live in these spaces regardless of affiliation.
The Bechtel residence is our newest building on campus. The housing options available in Bechtel include 4-, 6-, 8-, and 12-bedroom suites as well as a handful of standalone suite singles. In the suites, residents will each have their own private bedroom and common lounge space with tables, chairs, a sofa, and a micro-fridge, as well as bathroom facilities shared among suitemates. The standalone suite singles are single rooms with a private bathroom.
Marks and Braun are two small buildings located just south of the Center for Student Services (CSS) on campus. Each building is comprised of single rooms with shared bathrooms, and a small number of 2-bedroom suites (2 single rooms that share a bathroom). Each building has a Resident Associate to support the students living in these unaffiliated spaces.
Details about the Unaffiliated Housing Lottery will be available at the start of Spring Term 2021, but any first year students who do not choose an affiliation through Rotation will be able to choose a housing option in unaffiliated housing. Students who choose an affiliation through rotation are also eligible to participate in the Unaffiliated Housing Lottery. This allows for groups of affiliated and unaffiliated students to choose to live together in suites in Bechtel, including if groups of friends would like to live together in Bechtel suites.
The suites built on a particular theme are referred to Theme Living Communities (TLCs). Theme Living Communities offer first-year students the chance to live with other first-year students who share interests, experiences, or identities. TLCs are available for the entire year. If you are selected for a TLC, the match is binding. The following are the themes for 2021-22.
The Healthy Living theme suite is designated for students who would like to live in a wellness-centered community and who strive for a healthy and balanced lifestyle. The goal of this community is to provide students with opportunities to create a well-rounded academic and personal experience at Caltech. The suite will be centered around community-supported wellness practices and offer programming and activities to support education on physical and emotional health. This may include activities and resources that promote physical exercise, nutrition, and mindfulness.
Service and Community Engagement
The Service & Community Engagement theme suite is available to students who are civic-minded and are passionate about community service, public service, and community empowerment. The goal of this suite is provide students (individually and as a group) programs and activities that foster involvement with the campus and local communities and a deeper awareness of broader community issues.
Women* in STEM
The Women* in STEM suite is available to women pursuing degrees and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Residents in this community will enjoy an inclusive living space and engagement opportunities that focus on highlighting the experiences of women in STEM, building connections with campus faculty and student organizations, and activities and programs that empower women and promote learning and positive development.
*The Women in STEM LLC welcomes all women and female-identifying students, including cisgender, genderqueer, trans women and non-binary individuals.
Outdoor Exploration and Sustainability
The Outdoor Exploration and Sustainability theme suite is open to students who enjoy participating in outdoor activities and recreation and who want to support programs that encourage sustainability. Activities include but are not limited to camping, biking, hiking, and nature trips. Residents in this community can build connections with peers through shared interests in nature and sustainability efforts and can explore the local area as well as learn and develop skills for partaking in outdoor adventures.
The Intersectional Identities theme suite is open to students with an interest in building an inclusive community that celebrates diversity and honors how our multiple, dynamic identities shape how we experience and make meaning of the world. Members of this community will engage in activities that facilitate the exploration of their intersectional identities and deepen their understanding of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility within the context of STEM and beyond. Residents in this community will also build connections across shared identities with campus faculty, staff, and student organizations.