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Raving Residence Hall Reviews

How do your dorm room memories measure up against what today’s students have to say?

Student studying in a dorm.

UW Archives, S05603.

Do you ever wonder if that little wall divot you made in your Sellery Hall room is still there, bugging a particularly observant UW student today? Are your warnings about certain halls to prospective Badgers still valid? Today’s residents must have access to better cafeteria food or functional dryers, right?

Thanks to the new residence hall review website, MadHousing, wonder no more. Find out how your old living quarters hold up according to current students, and see what improvements you missed out on. Or maybe your memories of the UW dorm life are as sweet as those shared below!

Students in a dorm.
UW Archives, S06379

Robb was a handsome Bostonian who fashioned himself a ladies’ man in Witte hall, which had a reroofing project going on at the time. The roofing materials consisted of large styrofoam blocks. Robb finally got a date, placed candles and flowers in his dorm room, was leaving for a show and ordered his roommate out for the evening. While Robb was at the movie, a small army transported the styrofoam blocks up the Witte elevators and filled the entire dorm room. When he and his date arrived and opened the door, they were greeted with a white wall. Man was he mad. Failed to see our Wisconsin humor. Robb has passed away but he became a Badger, a Wisconsinite and the stories endure. 
David Smukowski ’78
Santa Barbara, CA

Supporting the University's promised disciplinary action to any student throwing another into Lake Mendota did not work out for two students in the mid 50's. They found their dorm beds, completely made up with sheets, blankets and pillows, on a raft on Lake Mendota. Though the culprits were never caught, my husband would smile slyly when telling this story. Shortly thereafter, a new record of student "dunkings" was set!
Barbara and Robert F Klockow ’55
Hartford, WI

My favorite occasion in Winslow in 1958 was the treatment of a particularly obnoxious resident of the second floor. His constant drinking and carousing made the rest of us impatient and one of his fellow Winslowians decided to treat him as he deserved to be treated. He pried off the caps on the miscreant’s bunk ends and stuffed two of them with fish caught from Lake Mendota. The prank cost a few days of waiting, but eventually paid dividends in harassment as the jerk-target could not figure out what smelled so awful in his room. He spoke considerably less and passed out from drinking someplace else for a while. Peace reigned.
Mike Cuthbert ’62, MS’63
Palm Springs, CA

Leopold Hall was upgraded from 2nd floor of Sullivan Hall. Well deserved!
Thomas Werblow '64
Oshkosh, WI

Circa 1978 I lived in Ogg Hall (the original of course). At that time beer was allowed at weekend parties in the center recreation room of each floor. Towards the end of evening, with beer to spare, my buddies had moved a keg, a chair and floor standing lamp into the elevator. Elevator riders were welcomed with a freshly poured glass of beer and a friendly smile. Ah, those good-old-days :)
Paul Moller ’81
Boise, ID

This is a tidbit from the year 1949/50. I came to Madison for the Fall term of 1949, as a “wise old” Junior (transferred from NYU), and roomed in a small girls’ dorm called Dover House on Lake Lawn (it’s now a frat house). My roomie was an adorable, peppy frosh from Chicago name Diana, and we hit it off right away. I was born in Europe, and we always had wine at our table, which I was allowed to drink in moderate quantity, and water diluted in my earliest years. I spent half of WWII in France, and was perhaps a bit more mature than many of our dorm residents. Hence, I found the evening “return to dorm” hours and some other regulations a bit constricting. The other 2 taboos imposed by our Dorm Mother, Mrs. Reuben, were NO boys in the dorm and NO alcohol in the rooms. The first no-no was not a problem, but the second one I found rather odd, having been used to an occasional drink and especially a hot rum toddy to relieve a nasty cold and cough. But I needed to (grudgingly) follow dorm rules. I found an interesting loophole, though: you couldn’t BRING IN any alcoholic drink, but, but, but, there was no mention of brewing something on the premises! One problem: my ground floor room was only 2 doors removed from Mrs. Reuben’s and she occasionally “visited” rooms unannounced! After much mulling (pun intended) it over, I solved the problem by buying a big glass jug of Motts Apple Juice, dropping some yeast into it, and placing it for a few days on our hissing radiator. After straining the liquid, the result was fairly decent apple jack (which Diana would NOT touch!). Mrs. Reuben could never understand why I liked my apple juice warm!

I’m now 92 years old, and happy to report that I survived my witches’ brew quite happily.
Jinx Akerkar ’51 (née Jeanne Oppenheimer)
Mumbai, India

1972 was my 13th year of school through elementary and high school and starting college(my freshman year), I lived on the 13th floor of Ogg, in room 1313. 13 became my lucky number after that. It was one of the best years I ever had. Dugger House in Ogg made it that way. I am still friends with kids I met there over 50 years ago. Waiting for the elevator to go up or down was just a minor annoyance and became part of the daily ritual. I learned so much from the kids that were from all over the country and world.
William Irving ’77
Elgin, IL

Back in the fall of 1955 as a freshman I was introduced to my roommate when she needed me to pull her into our dorm (Liz Waters) through the window after hours…unfortunately she didn’t last to the second semester on academic probation.
Gail Florin ’59
Winnetka, IL

I laughed that my son was in Chad 31 years after I was. We were told back in the mid 70s Chad would never be co-ed because it would be too hard to retro fit for longer beds.  Ha! That central location wins again! But no tear gas on Park Street for his stay. 
Nancy Proctor ’76, MBA’78

I moved into Sellery Hall when I arrived on campus as a sophomore in the fall of 1973. Down the hall from me was a girl who played the harp and had her full size pedal harp in her room to practice. I had never heard a harp played in person before, and I was mesmerized listening to her. I was not a musician, but the experience left me with a dream to play the harp someday, and when I turned 50 I finally got my own small folk harp and began taking lessons. Now at almost 70 I still love making music on my harp and I think of that girl from my UW dorm often. I hope she is still playing the harp somewhere, too. 
Kathleen Deuel ’76
Sleepy Hollow, NY

I lived in Elizabeth Waters during the 1991-1992 school year when it was still a female only residence hall. I was excited to meet my roommate, Missy, from Green Bay. But most excited to see and live with a long time friend that had moved to another state, Melissa. Melissa was my best friend in elementary school, then moved to North Carolina, but then came back to UW Madison for college and lived in Elizabeth Water too. It was great to reconnect with her. That year was a year of making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. Also studying too, wink.
Karen Rayshel ’96

Lived in Kronsage as an undergraduate and the experience was awful. Loud noise constantly, horrible food, uncomfortable bed. As a grad student lived in Witte Hall (10th floor). All grad students and the complete opposite of Kronsage. Preferred Witte to private residence.
Ronald Peck ’63
Georgetown, TX

After one semester at UW-Eau Claire, I transferred to Madison. Best decision I ever made! I borrowed my parents car and moved into Witte, during a heavy snow storm. I returned the car and they gave me a ride back to Madison, and when we entered my dorm room, my roommate and his buddy were playing cribbage and abusing substances! I had thought this might be an issue, so had tried to drop a lot of hints about returning with my parents on Sunday. No use. But what a great memory and tale to tell!
Jon Hummel ’82
Delavan, WI

I often wondered in 1974 if Cole Hall was less expensive to live in than all the other Lakeshore dorms. It lacked a lot in comparison to all the other Lakeshore and the Southeast dorms. No architectural charm, small room size and very few amenities. I was an out of state student and most of us were placed in the southeast dorms, unless we were agriculture majors or tennis players. Nielsen Stadium had been recently constructed.

I was glad to be away from the concentration of New Yorkers. I went to school out of state to have different experience. So the lakeshore was a great place to live. Most of my friends were from Wisconsin throughout my Madison years. But how such a beautiful lakeshore path ended lol with the cinder block Cole Hall was sadly disappointing. It just didn’t fit the environment.

I was a PT major so all my classes were far away and early. Those cold morning walks were a wake me up for sure! I put on my warmest coat in November. I didn’t realize how much colder December thru February would be. Fortunately down vests had just hit the market and the layering began second semester! Can’t remember the name of the retail outfitter on State Street near the Capitol that came to my rescue!
Rita Terris ’78
North Bellmore, NY

My first year at UW-Madison, I lived on the top floor of Chadbourne — then a women-only dorm. Our room faced the capitol, and it was a wonderful “night light,” providing plenty of light to see in the middle of the night. We didn’t close the curtains — we figured anyone who went through enough trouble to see into our room was allowed! One night, we did wake up and couldn’t figure out what was wrong, but something “wasn’t right.” Finally realized the light on the Capitol was OFF! Still don’t know why, but it was very weird!
Dianne Mentzel Thompson ’79
Red Bank, NJ

I lived in Winslow House and had a great freshman year. Roommate was from the same hometown, guys were generally congenial and disruptions were few and far between. I was a music major so didn’t love the daily slog to Music Hall for theory, history, etc., especially in the winter months, but soon found a girlfriend who lived in the Alpha Xi house, on the other end of campus! Food at Carson Gulley was excellent, and the experience was exactly what I needed as a freshman who was very busy with band and orchestra activities as well as my classes. I moved into a vacated fraternity house my sophomore year, closer to the girlfriend and close to the Gamma Phi Beta house, where I worked as a waiter. The Alpha Xi relationship ended, and I entered into a relationship with a Gamma Phi who I eventually married. Ah, youth!!!
Michael Cuthbert ’62, MS’63
Palm Springs, CA

I loved living in Chadbourne and would place it on top of the good dorm list. I lived there from 1965 to 1967. For most of us, that was our first “home away from home,” and Chadbourne and the UW was a good place to learn about independence and learn how to make life decisions. The memories are many:

  1. Watching the first Vietnam War protest sit-in at the admin building from the window in my room.
  2. Hosting a special Dads-and-Moms Weekend, where we spent the weekend entertaining them and introducing them to our new friends (and they took us out for a delicious dinner to escape dorm food).
  3. Having evening discussions with several resident friends on my sixth floor wing, where we solved every issue this country had at that time.
  4. “Borrowing” cafeteria trays to slide down Bascom Hill on the first measurable snowfall of the year.
  5. It was all women, so being able to wander the halls in our pajamas “or whatever” was ok.
  6. Our common areas were always nice and clean. I remember Saturday mornings when we had to clean our own rooms and they had to be checked by the “house mother” when we had completed the job.
  7. Our food was pretty good for cafeteria food, but if we were still hungry or wanted to skip a dorm meal, Paisan's was just across the street.
  8. Chadbourne was in the heart of the UW campus at that time, so we were able to get to just about every UW class building in a short time. When we overslept and had to run to our 8:00 a.m., it was possible to make it before the lecture started.
  9. It was close to Langdon Street and State Street, where lots of our social lives took place.  
  10. Living in Chadbourne provided me the opportunity to meet and make lifelong friends. I graduated in 1969, and 10 of my Chadbourne Hall friends still make an effort to get together once a year.  

I had a wonderful time there — almost too wonderful the first semester. Needless to say, my parents had to remind me why I was there. If I could, I would do my four years at the University of Wisconsin starting in Chadbourne all over again.
Barbara (Forton) Zander ’69
Stoughton, WI

Had a fabulous dorm experience in Cole Hall, 1978–80. These were the days when we all lived there for two years, and Lakeshore dorms were the place to be! I met many lifelong friends who also happened to be from different high schools in Milwaukee. And I also met my beloved husband, Jeff, when he came down my floor on a rollaway bed after attending a dance with my good friend. Ha!
Cathy Wendorf ’82

Gregory/Tripp, 1961–62. Spectacular.

Chip Burke ’66, JD’69

Excellent! Created lifelong friends. We still laugh about the stunts we pulled our freshmen year in Tripp/Gregory.
Cameron Cook ’76, JD’79
Bozeman, MT

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