Remembrance of things Ghraham

Remembrance of things Ghraham


Interiors: The all-women’s residence hall in the ’60s.

Right from the start, students called it a country club, and the pristine facility with the sparkling pool looked the part. The Charles H. Graham Residence for Women opened its gates (yes, it had gates) in 1963, just two years after Santa Clara first admitted women as undergraduates. Before Graham opened, coeds lived in the Villa Maria Apartments next to campus. For more recent students, the Graham gates served as ornamentation, but in the beginning they were locked nightly at 11 p.m. to enforce curfew.

Over the years, Graham underwent changes as it housed men as well as women, the curfew was relaxed, and—much to the dismay of its denizens—in 2005 its swimming pool was filled in. Graham’s final chapter came this summer, as the complex was leveled to make way for the new Graham Hall that will open in fall 2012.

In May, alumni spanning Graham’s half-century of student housing returned for the dorm’s send-off party. Guests enjoyed barbecue, took tours of the four buildings in the complex, and entered a raffle to win their old room number as a keepsake. Before the tile was plucked from the roof and bulldozers came calling in June, every last number had been claimed.

Read on for a sampling of alumni memories, and be sure to dive into the full collection by following the link to the right.

Gated community: Locked at curfew in the early days,
to keep women in and men out.


The Graham gates hold a special infamy for some—because the 11 p.m. curfew was serious business back  in the day. Ronnie Schwarz ’66 was one of many curfew limbo artists, taking part in the frequent “mad dash to beat the clock and get in the gate.” Of course, one could always go up and over the fence; Suzann Selden ’68remembers “being hoisted over the concrete fences post-curfew … only to end up in rose bushes.” Jim Heyburn ’68upheld Santa Clara’s engineering tradition by “installing a quick-release screen on one select ground-floor room.”

Pool party: It was the ’70s and it seemed like a
good idea at the time.


The pool inspired many students over the years to put off studying for just a bit more sun—and it tested the limits of undergrads’ imagination and friendships. Patti Boitano ’71 and Sarju Naran ’98 were each the victim of an abrupt (if temporary) eviction from their rooms. Boitano returned from class to discover “all my belongings out by the pool with everything set up just like my dorm room.” More than two decades later, the same prank was played on Naran, who calls the culprits his “best friends to date.”

If it was your birthday in Graham, you wore a swimsuit if you didn’t want some drenched togs. Janice Benech ’88Ron Andre ’93, and Susan Sy Cabael ’95 all fondly look back on the traditional, and non-negotiable, b-day dunk. “It was very cold,” says Andre. Even resident assistants weren’t safe. The residents under Robert Genchi ’00 ambushed and then chucked their RA into the deep end. “Bad then, awesome in hindsight,” says Genchi.
There were parties. Ken Rohner ’91, MBA ’97 recalls the day that several fraternity mud wrestlers, still a mess from that day’s competition, turned the pool into “a swamp.” Sue Fry ’79 remembers a particular bash when “a full-size powerboat somehow made its way into the pool.”


“It was during finals. I was a freshman living on the second floor of Walsh Hall,” Timothy “Pat” Hannon ’70, J.D. 74 recollects. What began with loud music, shouting, and a water fight suddenly “morphed into a panty raid for unknown reasons.”

The male students gathered at Swig Hall, where they staged their invasion. Over in Graham Hall, Betty Ross ’67, M.A. 79 observed an early arriver push a security guard into the pool. And while “the male students were crossing The Alameda to Graham—women at Graham were yelling at them to come in.”

Suddenly, “out of the night” Dean of Students Jerry McGrath appeared in a police car. He stood on the cruiser’s doorjamb and addressed the unruly crowd with the most disarming weapon at his disposal: wit. “I am glad you invited me here to speak to you tonight,” he said over the PA.

“It was a profile in courage,” recalls Hannon. “I, unfortunately, have witnessed other mobs, but I have never witnessed one person so alone and so deftly disarm a group with words so quickly.”

In hindsight? It was “a nice way to release the pressure valve of finals!” Ross says.


Located in the basement of Graham 100, Pipestage allowed students to catch some of the 1970s’ biggest acts for about a buck—as Jim Esposito ’78 recounts in his litany: “Who would have ever imagined that Steve Martin, Mike Bloomfield, Harvey Mandel, Michael Franks, Sammy Hagar, and a host of other great musicians and comedians would end up playing in the basement of this dorm?” mag-bug

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