Campus History


Want a swinging ’70s party? Get tips from an old UW Housing handbook.

Studentsreceive information as they move in at Ogg Hall in the 1970s.

Students receive information as they move in at Ogg Hall in the 1970s. UW ARCHIVES

Handbook for social chairpersons cover

The 1974 handbook was a remarkably permissive document. UW ARCHIVES

In the days just before the fall 2023 semester started, Madison heard the news that 128 fake IDs were seized in a single night, all presumably from people who wanted to drink underage. Many of those cited must have pined for the simpler days of 1974, when an 18-year-old could get beer without the hassle of leaving his or her dorm — all with the blessing of UW Housing.

The 1974–75 Handbook for Social Chairpersons was prepared by the Division of Housing to help res hall dwellers create “well-conceived, planned, and executed functions,” including winemaking, beer and brats parties, and (possibly for the less studious) a “surprise going-away party.”

“There is, literally, no limit to the scope of educational, social, and recreational events which can be developed by and for students living in University Residence Halls,” the handbook says. It then spends, literally, 24 pages describing limitations and rules: you must reserve space in advance, a House Fellow must be present or on call, food service must be arranged in advance, Housing staff will not wash dishes (they advise using paper so that students can throw their dishes away), permission is necessary for any event that starts before 6:30 a.m., beer service must stop promptly at 12:30 a.m., and all state regulations and University Housing policies must be adhered to.

Still, the 1974 handbook is a remarkably permissive document. Most of the rules are focused on ensuring that dining and maintenance staff are informed of plans and that bills are paid — pop, it notes, is 20 cents a can or $4.75 a case; beer is 30 cents a can and $5.75 a case. Today’s res hall residents can find their Housing guidelines, including rules and expectations, at

Published in the Winter 2023 issue


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