As a part of our initiative called Curious Cornhuskers, reader Kent Cockson asked The Daily Nebraskan, “When did Abel Hall become a coed dormitory?”
Abel Hall originated as an all-male building in 1965, and The Daily Nebraskan archives show that it became coed in 1974 with the opening of 80 spaces on two floors available to women.
Elizabeth Griego, the complex program director for Abel-Sandoz, told The Daily Nebraskan in 1974 that the transition to coed would not be “a big sex orgy thing. I feel they [floor residents] have the right attitudes,” she said.
Griego worried that there would not be enough women willing to fill the spots, but by 1978, the spaces available to women had grown to more than 260.
Coed living in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s residence halls began in Schramm Hall in 1970. The change came from requests by Harper-Schramm-Smith complex residents, and Margaret Wenke, the coordinator of housing contracts and assignments in 1978, said it also reflected a need for more women’s housing.
By 1981, the residence hall communities had adjusted to coed living. Doug Zatechka, the housing director in 1981, said the integration reduced “roughhousing and damage.” Joe Jordano, a first-year residence director of Abel North in 1981, said women added a “calming atmosphere” that mitigated the effect of an all-male dorm’s locker-room atmosphere.
Jordano said he didn’t see the coed dorm living up to a promiscuous stereotype.
"Some people outside the university say there’s more immorality,” he said, “but I don’t think we can take that inference.”
The spots available in Abel to women continued to increase until it reached today’s equal split. Jordan Black, assistant director in Housing Learning Communities, said each floor now in Abel is roughly 50 percent male and 50 percent female.
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