by Jeff Gire |


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 ’68 remembers “being hoisted over the concrete fences post-curfew … only to end up in rose bushes.” Jim Heyburn ’68 upheld 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 ’88, Ron 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

Fall 2011

See all articles from this issue


Change the world

The U.S. Peace Corps turned 50 this year, with more than 340 Santa Clara grads (and faculty and staff) having served as volunteers.

How can you defend those people?

Public defenders in the Homicide Task Force in Chicago have some answers about representing accused murderers.

Mission Matters

Welcome home, Fr. Rewak

SCU's poet-president returns to the Mission Campus as chancellor.

Putting cleantech on the map

The Center for Science, Technology, and Society tracks where off-the-grid solutions are lighting the way.

Bronco Profile

Tradition Shattered

Fifty years ago, Santa Clara admitted the first class of women into its undergraduate program. Gerri Beasley '65 shares some memories.

Online Only

Santa Clara Mag Blog
Web Exclusives
View a slideshow of archival photos.

Read alumni-submitted memories.

Submit a memory of your own using the comments box below.

View construction of the new Graham Hall from our Graham Cam.


  1. Debbie Medeiros Carey
    October 8, 2011 at 10:45 pm

     Memories . . . Steve Martin at Pipestage . . . what a deal! And who could forget the quesadillas . . . Wine and Cheese on Tuesday nights and the great dance parties that included doing the hustle in Graham 400.
      When I started at SCU I was a little disappointed that I ended up on the "upperclassman" side of campus, thinking I would miss the fun associated with Swig. Soon I realized that I I had the best arrangements - I mean a pool right outside my dorm? What a community we built. Thanks for the memories.
      I lived in Graham 300 for two years before moving off campus and then spending my senior year as a RA in Swig on the 8th floor. Class of 80

  2. Jim Freeburg
    October 10, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Graham 400 was my introduction to Santa Clara life. There was the time I tried to wash a friend's borrowed tuxedo in the washing machine, only to be stopped by my great friend (and savior) Cooper. Plus, my first and only all-nighter to write a paper for English class - I think I still barely passed the class. And I lived next to a German raver named Grasshopper, no joke.
     Tears, beers, no fears - that was my freshman year in Graham!
     Jim, Class of 2003

  3. Ralph Hipps, '80
    October 10, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Graham 200 was the best dorm on campus, period!! Playing frisbee over the pool and off the sides of the dorm wall all afternoon was a great stress reliever! Some even made it into the open windows! Then there were the post finals jam sessions out on the pool deck, fun stuff!! Those were the daze...

  4. Mike Di Blasi, '79
    October 11, 2011 at 1:36 am

    I lived in Graham 100 during the 70's and I fondly remember the pool outside my dorm. Many nights I would stay in the library until it closed at midnight and then jump in the pool for a late night swim. During the afternoon we would lay on our towels catching some rays until the sprinkler system would come on and force a hasty retreat. I also remember taking part in a bi-centennial celebration where tea was tossed into the pool. Returning to campus years later, I recall seeing a slight tea stain in that location.

  5. Deborah McHenry '86
    October 11, 2011 at 10:14 am

    And those of us on the top floors, with the beautiful wood ceilings had extra long phone cords so we could drop the phone down by our towel at the pool, and not miss a call while tanning--I mean, studying...

  6. Chris Mann '84
    October 11, 2011 at 11:09 am

    The pool is to blame. I think it was the direct fault of the pool's ability to distract students from their studies that more 4.0's were not achieved during our college years. At least that is one excuse.

  7. Xavier Haase '85
    October 11, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I lived in Graham 200 all four years while at SCU. I loved it! Being a Southern Californian and a surfer, the pool was a great escape from the land-locked "valley life" of SCU. As one of the first regular skateboarders at SCU (I used my skateboard to get everywhere!), I created a four year tradition for myself on my November birthday -- skateboard at top speed into the pool. This I did usually at night.
     By November, the temperature was freezing, but it was always a fun experience.
     The pool had disappeared when I returned to SCU for my 25 year reunion in 2010. I was shocked. Now Graham is history. Oh well, that's the price of progress.

  8. Dan McCoy, Class of '66
    October 12, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    We are committed to precision. In 1962, some, if not all, of the ladies of the class of '66 were housed in Nobili Hall in their freshman year. My recollection is that Nobili remained a ladies dorm through our sophomore year ('63 - '64). Nobili Hall became a men's dorm in SCU's first Fall trimester in 1964 and my roommate Jerry Walsh and I moved in to a Nobili dorm room in the Winter trimester of our junior year, preferring to live on campus than in an SCU-leased apartment house off campus. We were shocked! Nobili was sweet! Carpeted rooms and hallways! Clothes washers and dryers! A BATHTUB on each floor!!! Obviously the Jebbies did not want to hear complaints from parents of the frosh ladies about their daughters' accommodations when they tricked out Nobili for the ladies. The frosh guys had cold, 40 year-old linoleum tile floors at O'Connor and Kenna, no BATHTUBS!, and had to brave the foul laundromats of Santa Clara's urban blight to launder their clothes - at least those of us who bothered to wash their clothes. I had no talent for this. A week into my freshman year I washed my new "University of Santa Clara" sweat shirt along with my whites and spent the next two years trying to explain why all my T-shirts and socks were pink.

  9. Greg Finn, Class of '79 MBA '88
    October 19, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Students could rent Pipestage out for events. Two that sick out in my mind were the "Come as your favorite biblical character" party (as a business major I came as a moneychanger ousted from the temple) and a casino night using real chips and money that got raided by the police.