Throwback Thursday: Co-ed Curfews at The University of Texas in the 1960’s

Sara Reinsch

Editor’s note: This is the first in a weekly series in which The Daily Texan looks back at something it covered in its 113-year-old history.

An early morning Big Bite feast after a night of barhopping until closing time is not an unfamiliar scenario to many UT students. But female students in the early 1960s were not so lucky. The Daily Texan ran an article that announced an extended curfew in UT’s women’s residence halls on Sept. 17, 1963. The University-enforced curfews applied only to UT’s female students, an example of the disparity in gender equality at the time.

The curfew extension, granted by Margaret Peck, who served as the dean of women, changed the students’ Sunday through Thursday curfew from 11 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. and the Friday and Saturday curfew from 12:45 a.m. to 1 a.m.

“Residence halls are being kept open later to make it possible for women to take advantage of the additional study time,” Peck said in the Sept. 17 article.

The University imposed curfews on the majority of its female students in 1963. The then-called “coeds” were allowed to live in approved, privately-owned apartments beginning in their junior year, but they too were subject to curfews, according to a Daily Texan article that ran in August 1963. Women who were 21 years and older with 90 completed credit hours were permitted to live in unapproved housing, sans curfew.

Although University-enforced curfews would likely elicit strong, profanity-filled responses from female students today, a 1962 poll of freshmen women showed they did not favor a later curfew, according to the Sept. 17 article. Most hall residents didn’t have a lot to say about the curfew extension, the article said.

“It’s okay if you have a date with someone you like, but if you don’t — well,” one female student said in the article.

Two days after the women’s curfew article was published, the Texan ran a story that said freshmen and sophomore male students had been permitted to live in an approved, privately-owned apartment building for the first time. The apartment would not enforce a curfew, as no men’s University dormitories had curfews, the apartment building’s manager said in the Sept. 19 article.

“The approval was given to provide better housing for those who want to cook their own meals,” R.A. Sininger, assistant dean of student life, said in the Sept. 18 article. “Many feel this saves money.”

This explanation came one month after the August article cited a housemother, who gave an opposing argument to female students’ desire to cook. “Few girls want apartments, even after they become seniors, because they get to enjoy the association of other girls in the dorm and do not have time to cook their own meals,” the article said.

None of the articles explained why female students were given curfews and males were not, or why male students would have had more time to cook than females.

UT’s first coed residence hall, the Jester Center, was built in 1969, housing men and women in two separate towers within the same building. Gender equality continued to progress at the University from there, and today 80 percent of UT’s residence halls are coed. 

Women of 2013 are now left to complain about the ID card swipes required after midnight for entry into residence halls. But compared to a life without late-night Pluckers, last-call drink orders, 3 a.m. dog walks and after-hours movie premieres — it probably doesn’t seem too awful.