Eagle Hall Marks the Latest Chapter in Student Housing
Student housing has changed significantly throughout the College’s history.
SUNY Brockport’s newest residence hall welcomed its first inhabitants this fall. Eagle Hall, situated on the field between the Allen Administration Building and the Student Townhomes complex, represents the latest evolution of the housing experience on the Brockport campus.
The $24 million, 263-bed facility features “hotel-style” room layouts, in which two students live in one room and share a private bathroom. It contains a smart classroom and a large multipurpose room. It’s the first Brockport residence hall to go completely keyless, as card-swipe access is utilized throughout the building. And it offers a patio, complete with a gas fire pit.
It’s a far cry from what the first Brockport student residents experienced between 1841 and 1900. Those students, along with some faculty members, lived in the one building that constituted the school in that era. That ended in 1900, when a tragic fire at the Fredonia Normal School killed seven female students, prompting New York State to ban campus housing across all State Normal Schools.
“It was an awful thing,” said Charlie Cowling, the College’s archivist. “They had nailed heavy wire screens over the windows, including the ones leading to fire escapes, so no boys could get into the girls’ area, and thus the students couldn’t escape.”
Nobody else resided on campus for nearly 50 years. During this time, students either commuted or lived in a boarding house in the Village of Brockport. Then, upon the conclusion of World War II, the first residence halls were constructed on campus. The first permanent dormitory was Morgan Hall, completed in 1951.
Julianne Zarcone, a junior history major, is interning with Cowling this fall and is immersed in a research project that is examining dorm life for women during the 1960s and 1970s. Zarcone says that life on campus was strict for women during that era, especially as it related to curfews.
“Women always had to sign out and say where they were going and what time they’d be back. If they came back late, they’d get in trouble. You were not allowed to sleep outside of your dorm at night unless it was approved by your RD [residence director]. If you were sleeping off campus, you needed to have it approved by your RD and have a signed consent form from your parents,” Zarcone explained.
“This was for students who were over 18 years old. Meanwhile, male students didn’t have any restrictions at all.”
Zarcone said Brockport had the earliest curfew for female students out of all the SUNY campuses. Curfew was 10 pm Sunday through Friday and 1:30 am on Saturday. Those policies are believed to have ended in 1973. And in 1974, the first co-ed residence halls were introduced on campus.
Residence hall technology has evolved, as well. Swipe-card access was introduced to residence hall entryways in the early 2000s. With the proliferation of cell phones, land lines were removed from residence hall rooms in 2017. Brockport residence halls also cut the cord that year — ditching cable television for Philo, a streaming service for live television. And this summer, security cameras were installed in each residence hall.
With the introduction of a state-of-the-art facility like Eagle Hall, College officials hope more upperclassmen opt to live on campus once their two-year residence requirement expires.
“We hope students see what Eagle Hall has to offer and say, ‘wow, this is really nice, I’d like to continue living on campus if I can live in a place like this.’ And so far, reaction from students has been really positive,” said Craig Ross, associate director of residential life.