The life of a college student encompasses much more than solely classroom and academic experiences. From on and off campus living, to activism through student organizations, students at The University of Texas have a long history of involvement on campus. Explore linked resources in this section to learn more about the history of UT residence halls and Co-ops, student initiatives on campus, and highlights of various student organizations.

Duren House

The first dormitory open to African American female students. Located on East avenue, the house affectionately called "Duren House" after the dorm mother, Almetrius Duren, served as not only a dormitory, but a safe haven for both male and female African American students for socializing, community and encouragement. (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History – Almetrius Duren Archive)

Student Life


Dorms/Residence Halls

Campus living has seen many changes since the University’s founding. Explore the resources below to learn more about gender and racial changes to on campus housing.

  • 1962: Black students at The University of Texas extend an invitation to civil rights leader Martin Luther King to assist them with the full integration of all university facilities, including dormitories and intercollegiate athletics. (Austin Library)

  • 1964: “The University of Texas Board of Regents removes the last vestige of segregation on campus when it voted 6-1 to desegregate dormitories.” (Austin Library) That summer, 13 black students moved into Kinsolving, two into Simkins, and one into Moore-Hill, and more into traditional dorms and co-ops (Duren book, p 14)

  • Since 1956, when UT officially first opened its doors to black students “The only place for black girls to live was an off-campus co-op,” where Ms. Almetris Duren served as a housemother (Duren’s book, Introduction, page ix)

  • 2010: UT President William Powers Jr. requested to rename Simkins dormitory, named for a UT law professor who also was a Florida Ku Klux Klan leader, to Creekside Residence Hall and the adjacent area to Creekside Park (Statesman) (The Daily Texan)

Off Campus Living/Co-ops

Off campus living has been a refuge for many students over the past few decades. The resources below delve into the history of the founding of various Co-ops and off campus living.

  • The first housing cooperative in Austin was Halstead which opened in 1936 as an all-women’s co-op. (ICC Austin)

  • 1936: Dean of Women, Dorothy Gebauer, assisted 12 women in establishing Halstead House at 100 East 26th Street. The women's houses were entirely under the supervision of the Dean of Women. (Austin History Center)

  • In 1946 The Campus Guild Co-op invited Heman Sweatt, the first black student to be accepted to the U.T. Law School, to join, years before UT housing was integrated. (Housing Co-ops)

  • UT began admitting African-American students in the fall of 1956. The ICC voted unanimously to integrate all of the co-ops, although UT itself had planned to segregate housing. Almetris co-op was founded, named for its housemother, Almetris Marsh Duren, and housed only African-American students. (Austin History Center) (Austin Library)

  • In the summer of 1998, the Women's Co-Ops were forced to open to male residents. Wakonda was converted to a men's house, while the remaining eleven co-ops housed women. (Austin History Center)

  • East Austin Living: “During the 1971-72 academic year, twelve black students at The University of Texas conduct door-to-door surveys and density studies and gather signatures on a petition to successfully obtain a shuttle bus route into East Austin.” (Austin Library)

Themed Parties & Demonstrations

Parties and different forms of gatherings have long been a part of student life. Below are various articles about problematic gatherings that have occurred at UT since the 1900s.

  • 1940s: “Sigma Alpha Epsilon was known for hosting “jungle parties,” where they dressed as “Africans,” and Phi Gamma Delta, known as Texas Fiji, dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes and ignited a cross. Editors included blackface cartoons in The Cactus yearbook. The Texas Cowboys, a service organization, hosted minstrel shows, and the Longhorn Band provided the music.” (Dallas News)

  • 1960s: The Cowboy Minstrel Show (Life & Letters)

  • 2012: Fraternity cancels event after being accused of bias (The Daily Texan)

  • 2012: Two sororities, Zeta Tau Alpha and Delta Delta Delta, hosted their annual “Zeta-Tri Delt Fiesta Party” (Burnt Orange Report)

  • 2013: UT’s chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas planned a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” event that was called off. (Statesman)

  • 2015: Texas Fiji throws a party resulting in backlash (TexasMonthly) (The Daily Texan) (Fox 7) (KVUE)

  • 2013 and 2016: The Young Conservatives held an “affirmative action bake sale” on campus, with prices based on race and gender. (Dallas News)

  • 2017: A group of white males with American flag masks and Tiki torches gathered on campus in the middle of the night, which the university denounced as a hate group of white supremacists. (KVUE)

Student Activism

Students have acted as activists for causes they believe in since UT was created. Below there are many linked resources that explain the history of various student initiatives such as the Malcolm X Lounge, the Gender and Sexuality Center, the Multicultural Engagement Center, and various campus statues. You can also learn more about the complicated history of UT’s renowned newspaper The Daily Texan.

Malcolm X Lounge:

  • 1995: The lounge first opened on the ground floor of the Jester Center (Daily Texan)

Gender and Sexuality Center:

  • 2004: The Interim Gender and Sexuality Center opened its doors for the first time in a small conference room on the first floor of the Student Services Building. The Women's Resource Center and the GLBTAAA were instrumental in establishing the GSC. (Gender and Sexuality Center)

  • Establishment of DDCE: Under the leadership of President Powers, the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement was established at UT (Gender and Sexuality Center)

  • 2008: The GSC and the Queer Students Alliance hosted the first-ever Lavender Graduation at UT-Austin.  (Gender and Sexuality Center)

  • 2011: The GSC moved again to accommodate the increasing use of the space.  The new location in the SAC was and is a prominent position on campus near Student Government and the Multicultural Engagement Center. (Gender and Sexuality Center)

Multicultural Engagement Center Timeline:

  • 1988: Originally named the Minority Information Center, the MEC was established by students as an agency of Student Government (SG) to support Black and Latino students. 

  • 1990s: Expanded its bylaws to include Native American and Asian American students.

  • 1998: The Center became part of the Office of Student Affairs and the Center added a new agency, Students for Equity & Diversity and changed its name to the Multicultural Information Center.

  • 2007: The Center became part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement which was created under the direction of President William Powers.

  • 2009: The Center added a new student agency, Queer People of Color and Allies.

  • 2011: The Center relocated to the Student Activity Center and adopted a new name, the Multicultural Engagement Center, to better reflect its evolving mission.

Martin Luther King Jr Statue:

  • 1987: The effort to erect a statue of King began when a group of University students formed the Martin Luther King Jr. Sculpture Foundation. (Alcalde)

  • 1999: A bronze statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. was unveiled on the East Mall. (Alcalde)

  • The statue of MLK, a civil rights leader, is only the second on a college campus. The first being on his alma mater's campus. (Alcalde)

Barbara Jordan Statue:

  • 2002: Orange Jackets‘ tappee class began the quest for a female statue on campus (DDCE)

  • The state is located outside of the Texas Union on the corner of 24th and Whitis

  • 2009: The Barbara Jordan Statue unveiling (DDCE)

Daily Texan:

  • 1940: The Texan openly voiced racist sentiments (Daily Texan)

  • 1950: The push for integration grew stronger, and by the time Ronnie Dugger became editor of the Texan in 1950, publishing pro-integration editorials reflected the changing campus climate. (Daily Texan)

  • The Daily Texan supported the UT administration’s pandering to racist legislators in 1957 (Daily Texan)

  • 1997: An editorial in the Texan about race was written by law professor Lino Graglia (Daily Texan)

  • 2013: The Daily Texan posts a cartoon about the Trayvon Martin shooting calling Trayvon a "colored boy" (TexasMonthly)

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