The Special Interest Housing (SIH) program is a collaborative effort between the Office of Academic Enhancement and the Department of Housing and Residential Life. Established in 2008, this initiative is designed to provide upperclassmen, united by a common interest, activity, or cause, with the opportunity to create uniquely themed communities that provide educational opportunities and enhance their on-campus living experience. In addition to living together, these students receive funding, advising, and specialized training to assist in the programming and management of their communities.

Special Interest Housing communities reside in Mahoney and Pearson residential colleges; and each community has a minimum of 12 active members. SIH community options vary from year to year and are based on themes proposed during the community application process held at the beginning of the Spring semester (Jan-Feb). Communities are required to develop and conduct a minimum of eight programs, four academic/educational and four cultural/social, throughout the school year (August – May). Programming should provide direct and unique opportunities to its community members, as well as the University.

SIH Goals
The Special Interest Housing program was designed to enhance, compliment, and create academic experiences for upperclassmen who reside on campus.  Our goals are to:

  • Support the mission of the University, which is:

    “…to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond…we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world.”
  • Increase student leadership and overall involvement at the University of Miami
  • Create unique residential communities where living and learning are engaging and support student success
  • Sponsor activities that allow community residents to bond around specific themes
  • Support connections between classroom learning and campus living

Current Special Interest Housing Communities

  • Another Adventure Awaits
    Theme: Outdoor Adventures and Survival Skills

  • Cinematic Canes
    Theme: Cinematic Analysis

  • Bienvenue/Bienvenidos a Miami (BAM)
    Theme: explore the influence of Haitian and Cuban cultures on Miami

  • STRIVE - Serving Together Reaching Integrity, Values, & Engagement
    Theme: Community Service & Leadership Development

  • UCuisine
    Theme: Ethnic Cuisine and Culinary Exploration

  • UHealth
    Theme: Community for Students in the Pre-Health Disciplines

  • UTech
    Theme: Technology Floor

Community Elements
Special Interest Housing communities vary from year to year and are based on themes proposed during the community application process. All communities must have the following elements:

  • Theme

    Communities must have a title and theme that can be clearly and concisely articulated; and enhance the overall residential experience through exploration of a unique interest.
  • Group Coordinator

    The Group Coordinator is the point of contact between the prospective community and the SIH Selection Committee during the application process, and is responsible for:
    • Completing the community application on line
      If selected to make a presentation,
    • Organizing the group’s presentation,
      If approved to become a SIH community
    • Meeting with SIH Selection Committee to review Community Member applications,
    • Conducting a community meeting to elect a three member Executive Board (President, Vice-President, & Secretary/Treasurer)

  • Community Members

In order to be considered for an SIH community, group applications must include a list of at least 12 students interested in living in this community.   All students who are interested in being part of a SIH community must submit the Community Member Application online.  Community members are expected to:

    • Attend monthly community meetings
    • Actively assist with the creation and implementation of programming initiatives
    • Participate in all community and SIH programming during the academic year

*Failure to meet any of the above requirements may result in removal from the SIH program.

  • Faculty Advisor

The Faculty Advisor (FA) supports the theme of the community by actively engaging in its programs and the mission of the community.  FAs work closely with their SIH communities to assist them with reaching their goals, designing programs, and serving as a mentor for the community’s students.  If a group does not have a faculty advisor, the Special Interest Housing Selection Committee will work with approved communities to help identify an advisor.

  • Executive Board

All SIH communities will elect a three member Executive Board comprised of a President, Vice-President, and Secretary/Treasurer.  The E-Board is responsible for:

  • Conducting bi-weekly board meetings, independently or in conjunction with their faculty advisor
  • Holding monthly community meetings
  • Carrying out the duties of their elected offices
  • Programming

Each community must develop a minimum of eight programs, four academic/educational and four cultural/social, throughout the school year (August – May).  This programming should provide direct and unique opportunities to its members as well as the University; and include at least 2 collaborations with other SIH communities and/or Residence Halls.

Community Application/Selection Process

Groups wishing to continue as or propose a Special Interest Housing community should complete the Current Community Application or New Community Application on-line.  Groups selected to make a presentation are asked to have 2-3 members conduct a 30 minute info-session explaining their community idea to the SIH Selection Committee and highlighting the following items:

  • Community Purpose
    • A clear and concise description of the theme & purpose of the community.
    • How does the community's mission & goals enhance student learning and support the academic mission of the University?
    • How will living in a residence hall help members carry out your community’s mission?
    • How will this community positively and actively contribute to the University?
  • Community Development
    • Discuss some possible programming topics.
    • What do you deem the ideal relationship between your SIH community and other students living in the residential college?
    • How will the existence of this community benefit not only the members of your community, other residents in the residential college, and the greater University community?

Community Member Application Process

Students interested in living in a Special Interest Housing community should complete the Community Member Application on-line.  The Group Coordinator along with SIH Selection Committee members will determine community participants and will notify students of their SIH status prior to general housing sign-up.

Being selected for an SIH community does not guarantee on-campus housing. Students seeking all on-campus housing assignments must apply for housing on-line through Canelink.

For more information on the Special Interest Housing program and/or application process, please email your questions to or call (305)284-3349.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Why should I apply?
Special Interest Housing offers students an opportunity to live together around a common theme and engage with faculty and peers through programs, activities, discussions, and other exciting events. This is a great way to become more involved with the UM community.

What are the benefits of living on campus?
Research has shown that students who live on campus make better grades, have closer relationships with faculty and friends, and are more satisfied with their overall college experience. Additionally, living on campus is more convenient, and in some instances less costly, than living off campus; and on-campus students have residential college staff available to them 24-hours a day!

What am I expected to do by living on a special interest floor?
Students who reside within OAE's Special Interest Housing communities are expected to abide by all Department of Housing and Residential Life policies and procedures, as well as be involved and participate in the community’s activities.

How many students are required for our special interest community to be considered?
In order to be considered for SIH community space, groups must be comprised of at least 12 students

Are there any additional costs?
There are no additional costs associated with living in Special Interest Housing communities.

What if I am unable to attend all of the programs/events in my community?
If you are unable to attend, please speak to a member of your Executive Board. The success of the program relies on the initiative, participation, and involvement of its members.

Which residential colleges house Special Interest Housing communities?
Mahoney and Pearson Residential Colleges

Where can I get more information?
For information regarding Special Interest Housing, please email or call 305-284-3349.

SIH Management Structure

(Updated 10/23/15)