Multicultural Theme Housing

At Oakes students live in an inclusive community. Multicultural Theme Housing provides a space for every student to learn about important sociopolitical and cultural figures who have contributed to the liberation of marginalized groups on local and global levels. In addition, Multicultural Theme Housing encourages residents to come together and find commonality. Education at Oakes is based upon the shared experiences of different peoples interacting in a multi-faceted learning environment. 

Biko House

While Nelson Mandela is the living embodiment of the anti-apartheid struggle, Steven Biko was the martyr of the movement. Biko House is named after Bantu Stephen Biko, a progressive Black South African leader. He believed that the struggle for Black liberation could succeed if led by the people rather than a select few. He was one of the many articulators of the Black consciousness movement. This movement was geared towards preparing Black youth for a new phase in the struggle for freedom. For his anti-apartheid work, he was “banned” by the South African government, forbidden to speak to more than one person at a time, or to function fully as a political personality. In fear of his activism, the South African Security Police arrested him and subjected him to many hours of interrogation and torture. He sustained several blows to the head which damaged his brain and led to his death at the age of 30. The influence of Bantu Stephen Biko lives on in the ideals of millions of South Africans and others in the world who struggle to free themselves from oppression.

Casa Huerta

Dolores Huerta is the Chicana activist and Vice President of the United Farm Workers of America (UFWA). A leader of Chicano farm workers (campesinos) in California for the past thirty-five years, she is publicly recognized as a central figure in the struggle for economic and racial justice in the United States. Equally significant, Huerta’s career debunks prevailing myths of femininity and of “women’s work,” the stereotypical notion that the only place for women is “in the home.” Her personal history offers an inspiring example for women challenging sexism and patriarchal domination. Huerta has visited and spoken on the UC Santa Cruz campus several times.

Bayit Wiesel

Elie Wiesel was born in Sighet, Transylvania on September 30, 1928. At age 15, he and his family were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. As a survivor and witness of the Holocaust, he has dedicated his life to the quest of justice for all oppressed people.  Wiesel’s experience has compelled him to write more than thirty works regarding the Holocaust. His efforts as an author and human rights activist have earned him the Congressional Gold Medal of Achievement, the Medal of Liberty Award and the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize. Elie Wiesel visited the dorm and met with students in 1996.

Hong-Lim House

Maxine Hong Kingston’s books are among the most widely read multicultural books in the national public school system. She was born in Stockton, California. Her parents came to the United States in the 1930s from a peasant village in China. As a child, she learned the millennia old Chinese legends, traditions and folk beliefs that helped her make sense of her own life. Her autobiographical novel, The Woman Warrior - Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, and her book, China Men, won national awards.

Genny Lim is a native of San Francisco. The author of Paper Angels, a prize winning drama about Chinese immigrants detained on Angel Island, Lim also co-authored Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island: 1910 -1940. Lim has been honored with the American Book Award and the 1988 New Genre fellowship from the California Arts Council. She teaches theater and women’s literature at the New College of California in San Francisco, and conducts the Poets in the Galleries program at the Fine Arts Museums of the San Francisco Arts Commission. She was the graduation speaker at Oakes College in June of 1995.

Casa Kahlo

Casa Kahlo is named after Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo Calderón. Born in the city of Coyoacán, México in 1907, Kahlo was a woman ahead of her time. Kahlo identified herself as a Latina feminist, bisexual and physically challenged woman. In her lifetime she created a form of art recognized around the world as distinctive from the major movements in art during her time. Frida Kahlo’s paintings reflect the physical and spiritual suffering she endured during her life. Her passion for artistic expression and commitment to social activism were primary involvements for this woman, who in her early 20s suffered a severe accident that not only left her permanently disabled, but unable to conceive children. Today, her legacy persists as a testimony to the inner strength of many women who face insurmountable odds, yet succeed in powerful and meaningful ways.


Shabazz Block 

Shabazz Block is named after El Hajj Malik and Betty El Shabazz. El Hajj Malik is the Muslim name of deceased civil rights activist and religious leader Malcolm X. He chose the name Malcolm X to represent the absence of a last name, forever lost for many African-Americans through slavery. A gifted orator, Malcolm X encouraged independent thought and cultural pride, while advocating self defense in the face of oppression.Betty El Shabazz, deceased wife of Malcolm X, was the director of communication and public relations at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York. El Hajj Malik and Betty El Shabazz’s partnership represents the strength and unity of the African-American family.


Milk Block

(continuing students only)

Harvey Milk was the first openly gay public official in San Francisco who served as a County Supervisor. His Jewish background was also a significant part of his identity. Unofficially known as the “Mayor of Castro Street,” Milk was instrumental in developing a safe community for gay and lesbian people in San Francisco. “The Castro” remains one of the most dynamic cultural and political centers of queer life in the U.S. Milk’s leadership brought new hope to the gay, lesbian and bisexual rights movement. In November 1978, Milk’s career and life were cut short when he was shot and killed by a fellow San Francisco official who opposed Milk’s political and humanistic ideals. Milk remains a symbol of hope and struggle in the midst of multiple oppressors.


Lili’uokalani-Minami Block

(continuing students only)

Lili’uokalani-Minami Block is named after Queen Lili’uokalani and Dale Minami, both integral figures in Asian American and Pacific Islander movements for equity and justice.Queen Lili’uokalani was the last Queen of Hawaii. Initially resisting American annexation of Hawaii as a territory, Queen Lili’uokalani finally surrendered to United States military forces to avoid the bloodshed of her people, already being decimated by Western diseases. Currently, Lili’uokalani is a strong symbol of self determination and sovereignty for indigenous peoples. Queen Lili’uokalani’s legacy continues in the present movement for the sovereignty of native  Hawaiian peoples.

Dale Minami is a sansei (third generation Japanese American) attorney best known for his work demanding redress and reparations for Japanese Americans unconstitutionally interned in concentration camps during World War II. Minami was an integral part of a mass multicultural coalition, which demanded a government apology and symbolic monetary compensation for the injustices inflicted upon over 120,000 Japanese Americans. After many years of intensely pressuring the U.S. government, the redress and reparations movement succeeded in 1988. Minami was also a founding member of the Asian Law Caucus, a nonprofit, legal organization in San Francisco. Currently, Minami practices in San Francisco and is known in many communities for his pro bono work.