Remembering a Residential Revolution
Terps Look Back on 50th Anniversary of UMD’s First Co-ed Hallby Annie Dankelson | Photo courtesy of The Diamondback/Maryland Media
Only 50 years ago, curfews barred female undergraduates from venturing outside their residence halls after midnight on weekdays and required them to sign in and out.
It was the era of the Vietnam War, Woodstock and the moon landing, yet allowing men and women to live in the same building was still called “far out.”
But in Fall 1969, Hagerstown Hall swung open the doors to the women’s lib movement and became the first co-ed residence hall at Maryland.
The idea came from Dr. Roy Eskow ’68, M.A. ’71, then a resident assistant in Cumberland Hall, who drafted the proposal to house men and women in opposite wings on six of the eight floors in Hagerstown Hall, then a women’s dormitory.
The administration signed off, with a few conditions: Male applicants needed upperclassman status, at least a 2.0 GPA, proof of interest in student activities and a recommendation from their previous hall.
Some parents voiced concerns, while The Diamondback sarcastically suggested in an editorial that the change “would be just another step down the road to eternal fire and damnation.”
But the “experiment,” as it was called, was a hit.
“Fears and anxieties that parents had never materialized,” says Eskow, who served as a Hagerstown RA. “Students treated each other with the same respect they did anywhere else on campus.”
So popular was the concept that trailers by Fraternity Row, formerly all-male, also allowed women for the first time that year as well. A mere plywood board separated the genders.
A handful of other buildings sought co-ed status the next fall, and now, the all-female Cecil is UMD’s only remaining single-sex residence hall.
Leave a Reply
* indicates a required field
Bonnie Feldesman Lefkowitz, BA 1960
I lived in Anne Arundel Hall, I believe the oldest women's dorm, 1956-1958. Week night curfew was 8:45 pm, except for two week nights at 10:45 pm. On weekends it was 12:45 am. Men were allowed until 8:45 pm; only in the lobby and you had to come to greet them.
I lived in La Plata Hall from the time I began my freshman year in 1970 until I graduated. La Plata remained a women’s dorm all that time and I never regretted my choice to stay there. On one occasion during those years I was casually dating a University of Florida student who came to visit me. While I didn’t consider it seriously relationship, Larry apparently had ideas of his own. Larry had a place to stay that was other than my room, so imagine my surprise at being awakened in the middle of the night, during his visit, by a loud, fervent knock on my door. Guess who claimed to have been locked out of where he was staying? And guess what “solution” to his problem he had in mind?