USF Residence Halls

A Place to Hang your Horns

Campus life is an integral part of a complete college experience. The residence halls at USF are not exempt from this and have a history deeply rooted with student activism and social change. At the heart of this history is the fight against restrictive gender policies regarding sign-out and visitation in the early days of USF.

Although dorms at college campuses have earned a reputation of being dens of sin revolving around drugs, sex, and unruly students enjoying their first taste of freedom, much more goes on behind the doors of residence halls on the USF campus. Those who work in USF Housing and Residential Education refer to the USF ‘dorms’ as residence halls because they provide more than a room. They offer formal and informal education and provide residents with a safe, comfortable, and low-cost living arrangement while promoting social and moral development. When intelligent individuals are allowed to room together, the sharing of ideas and opinions can lead to activism and change on a major scale.

In fall 1961, Alpha Hall became the first co-ed residence hall on campus. According to The Oracle, men and women had their own wings separated by an “8-inch concrete wall and two permanently locked doors.” Beta Hall, finished in 1962, and Gamma Hall, finished in 1963, were the next residence halls on campus. Alpha Hall and Gamma Hall both became same-sex halls in the mid-1960s, housing men and women respectively. The policies put in place for the women in Gamma Hall included, but were not limited to: mandatory sign-out system, bed checks, and limited visitation. In the fall of 1970, the women of Gamma Hall protested the mandatory sign-out, a system put in place to keep account of residents within the building. Eighty-two percent of the Gamma residents opposed the policy while the Dean of Women, Margaret Fisher, supported it. In the spirit of gender solidarity, Argos Representative Roy Ashley declared the policy “discriminatory towards women.” Once Dean Fisher abolished the sign-out policy for Gamma Hall, the other halls abandoned the policy as well. Regarding visitation, a policy put in place in 1970 allowed 24-hour visitation policy in the halls. Then in 1971, the policy was repealed due to social stigma against premarital sex and unsupervised opposite sex interactions. Opponents of the 24-hour policy referred to the halls as “taxpayer whorehouses.” In the end, the visitation policy was adjusted two more times, returning to the 24-hour policy in 1979.

As of today, the only hall on campus that is single-sex is Lambda Hall and visitation is 24 hours as long as the guest accompanied and the roommate is aware and agrees to the guest’s presence. Alpha and Gamma are still standing, although renamed Kosove and Castor Hall. As of May 2016, five new residence halls are in the process of being built. For students who have the opportunity to live in the new halls, they have the ability to make an impact that will be present for generations of students to come.