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SMU Student Life: Housing

Early Boarding Restrictions at SMU

Information from SMU Course Catalogs

1916-17 - Board and rooms may be secured in approved private homes at reasonable rates.

1917-18 - Board and rooms may be secured in approved private homes at reasonable rates.

1918-19 - “Boarding Restrictions” section appears: all women must live in dorms and all freshmen men under 20 years of age must live in dorms. There are exceptions for both sexes.

1919-20 - No specific boarding restrictions section, but it does state that board and rooms may be secured in approved private homes at reasonable rates.

1920-21 - States that board and rooms may be secured in approved private homes at reasonable rates. It also includes a “Boarding Restrictions” section: “All women students, except those who reside with near relatives, are required to live in the dormitories. Exceptions may also be made in the case of mature women who are pursuing special advanced work. Of men students, all freshmen under twenty years of age, except for those who reside with near relatives, are required to live in the dormitories. Exceptions may here be made in the case of those who desire to work for their board.”

1921-22 - “Boarding Restrictions” section from the previous year is expanded to include more exceptions. The core of the 1920-21 restrictions are the same (all women and all freshmen men under twenty years of age). This is the first year that separate sections are included under the Boarding Restrictions section for both sexes.  (p.39-40)

1922-23 - “Boarding Restrictions” section requires all freshmen men under 20 years of age, and all freshmen and sophomore women to live in dorms. There are exceptions for both sexes.

1929-30 - Freshmen and Sophomore men under 21 years of age and all undergraduate women must live in dorms.

Transition to Co-Ed Housing at SMU

1971 - Visitation rights were enacted and men and women now lived in adjacent dorms instead of in separate quads as previously. The south quad was for freshmen and the north quad was for upperclassmen (Dallas Times Herald 5/28/72)

1972-73 - Cockrell-McIntosh and Morrison-McGinnis become two sets of adjoining men’s and women’s residence halls, instead of single-sex units as previously.

1973 – Shuttles became co-ed and housed a living-learning section on one floor (sounds like Shuttles was set apart for experiments in living arrangements at SMU).

1975 - Mary Hay Hall was co-ed, although it is not clear if this is a new situation (DTH 1/6/75).

1975 - Housing for returning students: Shuttles is all female, Snyder is all male, Boaz is co-ed by wing, and Mary Hay is co-ed by suite.

1978 – Housing for returning students: Shuttles is all female, Snyder is co-ed by suite, and Boaz is co-ed by wing.

1984-85 – Freshmen housing options: male (Cockrell, McGinnis, Letterman East, and Boaz) and female (McIntosh, Morrison, McElvaney, Letterman West and Boaz 1).

1987-88 – Single-sex or co-ed housing options available for freshmen. McElvaney is co-ed, and the rest of the south quad is single-sex. All of the south quad except for McGinnis is freshman, and all the north quad except for Mary Hay is sophomore or above. Mary Hay includes some freshmen who requested to live with upperclassmen. All of the north quad except for Virginia (all female) is co-ed.

History of Resident Hall Advisors

(Also known as Counselors, RAs, and Resident Assistants)

From SMU’s first days until the early 1960s, university administrators tightly controlled students in their habits, dress, dorm hours, dorm life, and visitation with each other. 

Counselors (introduced in the 1950s) were always upperclassmen or upperclasswomen. In 1960, a highly selective 3% of “mature, fellow students” were appointed as Counselors. Selection was based on leadership, scholarship, and desire. Male Counselors were expected to administer a set of rules for dormitory living including enforcing quiet hours, weekly room inspections, and holding floor meetings. In addition counselors encouraged men to participate in dorm athletic programs as well as co-ed dance groups, hayrides, and swimming parties. During this era, Dormitory Directors and their wives chaperoned when college women interacted with college men.

In 1965, women counselors were selected and paid by the University to work at the dorm reception desks and to help handle any problems that might arise in the residence halls. A Counselor could be a friend, advisor, a substitute mother or a sounding board. In 1968, the dorms began experimenting with visitation. By then, men had not had any curfews for five years, and women’s curfew rules had been liberalized.

By the fall semester of 1971, the separate positions of Dean of Men and Dean of Women were changed to two positions—one staff member became responsible for student programs and the other responsible for residential living. Graduate student hall directors (one per dorm) replaced live-in House Mothers and Dormitory Directors. Counselors were renamed Resident Hall Advisors.

In 1972, visitation policies varied by dorm, and some dorms were co-ed. SMU’s philosophy was to develop a sense of community and concern for individual students. Resident Assistants were required to take a specially designed psychology course as a part of RA training. Rules had become de-emphasized. 

In 1979, Resident Assistants were seen as instrumental in helping each floor establish a sense of community—and is responsible for communicating university regulations. An RA was not a policeman.

In addition to paid positions, SMU also sponsored volunteer programs in the resident halls. Sophomore women in 1957 were recruited to be “Wranglers” for the incoming freshmen “Colts.” This volunteer program was designed to help new students adjust to college life. Later, the “Wranglers” evolved into “Sophomore Sponsors.” Sophomore advisors were non-salaried sophomores willing to live in freshman floors to aid students to adjusting to university life.