Oakes Mission Statement

"Oakes is in Your Hands" - 2017

Since its founding in 1972, Oakes College has been committed to intellectual, academic and personal inquiry rooted in the possibility of effecting positive social and political change. As a multi-ethnic community, we provoke the exchange of cross-cultural perspectives. Our efforts to understand, accept and celebrate human diversity are a source of exceptional strength. Through this committed inquiry, we raise often unaddressed issues that the university community must examine.

Oakes resists simple definition. When asked, Oakes students, faculty and staff describe it as –

“…a community which strives to offer a safe, supportive environment always working to reduce the feeling of alienation for all people.”

“…a college which ensures the academic and personal growth and success of all students, with particular consideration for students from underrepresented communities.”

“…a place that nurtures courageous and innovative thinking about education for active participation in democracy.”

“…a community which seeks to overcome social oppressions which result in restricting access or opportunity on the basis of race, gender, ability, sexual orientation, age or class.”

“…a place that does not make sense. It doesn’t want to. It puzzles Status Quo with its relentlessly consistent transformation. Its uncompromising commitment to differences both incommensurable and otherwise makes Coalition’s work much harder. And Panacea stumbles around baffled by Oakes’ uncanny ability to present new and more difficult challenges every single day. No, Oakes does not make sense. It cannot, for the members that make up its community are altogether uncommon. Oakes is always reaching new levels of uncommon-sense.”

“…a place where people take risks to try out new ways of meeting each other, across racial, ethnic, and class differences. Where difference isn’t always a barrier but an invitation to grow.”

“…a community which honors and supports the communities from which Oakes students come by creating opportunities for student voluntary service to those communities.”

“…a place where students experience the power of their intelligence and of their literacy, in as many languages as our community can discover.”


Faculty, student and staff members of the Oakes Mission Review Task Force, who collaborated in framing this statement in May of 1994, invite you to contribute to Oakes’ ongoing process of self-definition.