1870 – The beginning
Without crossword or sadoku puzzles, sitting through boring classes was a trying task for male students at the University in its first five decades. But in 1870, University administrators decided to introduce something new to the classroom – female students. When Madeline Stockwell walked into her first class in Tappan Hall that fall it was the beginning of the end of gender segregation on campus, though it would be years until women were allowed through the doors of the Union. The year 1870 did more than break down the gender barrier at one of the nation’s largest universities; it also paved the way for a different kind of education.
1880 – Petticoats and promiscuity
Through the 1880s until the turn of the century, women commonly lived in mixed boarding houses with men. Surely there must have been exceptions to Victorian-era norms of chastity.
1900 – The modest beginnings of University Housing
Although mixed boarding houses still exist, women increasingly live in University-supervised houses that house only women. Those women living in mixed boarding houses can be disciplined for “entertaining” men in their rooms.
1920 – A long way from East Quad
The University greatly expands the number of dormitory beds available. Those beds, however, are safely sequestered in all-mall and all-female dorms.
1927 – Driving them crazy
The University Board of Regents bans students from bringing cars to campus, in part to prevent undergraduates from being able to drive to speakeasies – or have trysts. The ban wasn’t fully overturned until 1968.
1952 – The first panty raid
Spring madness hit the University hard in 1952. The men were restless, and the first balmy evening of the year, men from South Quad and West Quad assembled for an invasion. Egged on by hundreds of their voyeuristic peers, the men ventured into women’s dorms and into the unlocked rooms and rummaged through underwear drawers. After looting the rooms, they returned to cheering crowds with waving panties and lingerie as trophies.
It’s generally accepted that this was the first large scale panty raid ever and it garnered national media attention. Damages totaled only $188, but the trend spread to other campuses.
1961 – Term ends for last dean of women
Deborah Bacon couldn’t take it anymore.
It wasn’t just that being the dean of women was a tough job, though it was. The position called for a surrogate mother for female students, enforcing curfews and dress codes, even monitoring students’ dates.
It was that the students were rebelling. As the 60s took hold, there was growing unrest on campus with the restrictive policies Bacon enforced. In particular they protested what they saw was Bacon’s unwillingness to allow white women to date black men.
As the sixties picked up steam and women across the nation pioneered sexual liberation University enforced constraints also fell by the wayside.
Bacon stepped down and was never replaced.
1961 – Going upstairs for a night cap
Women over 21 are no longer required to live in University-approved housing or observe curfew, giving these women more control over when – and where – they sleep. The University also relaxes rules on “visitation privileges” that kept callers from entering the dorm rooms of opposite-sex acquaintances.
1964 – The end of the great divide
Students have more opportunities to mingle with the opposite sex when South Quad, an all-male dorm, and Markley, and all-female dorm, both become co-educational. By 1972, Stockwell is the only remaining large female-only dorm.
1970 – Out past curfew
The Regents officially abolish mandatory curfews for women living in University residence halls.
1971 – The start of LGBTA
The University opens the Human Sexuality Office, which later becomes the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs.
1985 – A gaffe and a gift
“Rape is like Alzheimer’s,” Henry Johnson, then Vice-President for Student Services told the Metropolitan Detroit Magazine. He was trying to explain why the University played down instances of rape in order to make campus appear safer to incoming students. “(It) impacts a small but sizable part of the population. . To dicuss sexual assault is to send a message to your potential students . that it is an unsafe campus.”
This statement triggered widespread campus outcry. Protestors camped out in Johnson’s office demanding that the University create an anti-rape center and better address women’s safety on campus.
The general uproar didn’t fall on deaf ears. A month later, the University dedicated a $75,000 piece of the budget dedicated to the creation of an anti-assault program.
1986 – SAPAC created
The Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center opens an office on the third floor of the Michigan Union with a $75,000 budget.
2002 – The last naked mile
The longstanding campus tradition where seniors ran naked down Washtenaw Avenue and State Street was deemed unsafe by campus cops and ended without a bang, despite the best efforts of a few students who tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate it.
2007 – Illegal roommates
Think the consequences over before moving in with your significant other: While we’ve never heard of a prosecution, a Michigan state law still on the books says that any unmarried man and woman “who lewdly and lasciviously cohabit together” can face up to 1 year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
-Information for this time line was compiled from “The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey,” a 1979 booklet issued by University Housing, and Howard Peckcham’s “The Making of the University of Michigan: 1817-1992”