Tercero grounds

Photo: Karin Higgins/UC Davis

Tercero: Then and Now

A recent resident talks with one of the dorm’s first occupants.

by | Sep 13, 2022 | Culture, Features

Shelby Dioum

Shelby Dioum (Courtesy)

I got a bit sentimental moving out of my freshman dorm in Tercero this past spring. I specifically remember taking one last glance at my space and realizing that I would never sleep in my twin XL bed again or spend long nights studying at my small wooden desk.

To reflect on fond memories, I decided to compare different Tercero living experiences. I reached out to Rosemary Christensen ’70, a resident of one of the very first Tercero dorms, to reflect on dorm-life memories — both recent and not so recent.

Tercero circa 1966

Tercero under construction in 1966. (University Archives)

The growth of Tercero 

The first buildings in Tercero opened in 1967. Named Pierce and Thille halls, each contained six buildings. Christensen lived in Pierce Hall, in the G building.

Nowadays, Tercero houses the most freshmen out of any of the residence halls on campus. With its proximity to the Sciences Lecture Hall and Latitude restaurant, it’s constantly brimming with activity. In 1967, however, Christensen recalled feeling somewhat isolated.

“We were far away, somewhere between the cow barns and the pig barns, with sheep in there somewhere.” Christensen jokingly recalled.

Tercero now

Living Learning Communities

I was grateful for my placement in a Living Learning Community, or LLC. At UC Davis, LLCs are floors made up of people with similar interests and backgrounds. I chose the African and African American LLC.   

Through my LLC, I learned of various resources and events for Black students at UC Davis. My favorite resource has to be the Center for African Diaspora Student Success, which provides mentorship for Black students. I’ve met plenty of inspirational people there, and its study spaces are unmatched.

LLCs started at UC Davis in 1969, just a couple years after Christensen lived in Tercero. Still, she said she met a lot of people in other ways and still keeps in touch with her roommate at the time.

“She moved to Italy shortly after college,” Christensen said. “Still, we see each other when she returns home. Wonderful woman.”

Rosemary Christensen

Rosemary Christensen (Courtesy)

Bathroom tales

Because I lived on a co-ed floor, I had a choice of bathrooms: women’s and co-ed. I used the co-ed bathroom the most, because it had fewer people in it at any given time — and being walked in on by a guy was a risk I was willing to take. 

This did happen, but these instances were pretty few and far between. One time, I actually walked in on a guy doing pull-ups on the shower rail, which was pretty funny!

UC Davis’ first co-ed residence hall didn’t open until 1969, so Christensen was on an all-women’s floor when she lived in the dorms. She said the buildings weren’t completely finished either, meaning that the first residents of Tercero were left without an important bathroom commodity: shower curtains.

“If you were shy, it was a bit embarrassing, to say the least,” Christensen recalled. “All these strangers using the toilets while you are trying to scoot from the wall hooks to the shower and not be noticed. Fat chance!”

Pierce Hall and Thille Hall

Pierce Hall and Thille Hall opened in 1967; each hall was comprised of six buildings housing about 70 students each; they were named G, H, J, K, L, M and A, B, C, D, E, F respectively. (Courtesy of UC Davis Housing)

Dairy Road

Tercero remains close in proximity to the Animal Sciences Teaching Facility and the Dairy Barn, which means it’s still close to cows. I actually lived across from them in Campbell Hall, right on Dairy Road. Their smell didn’t bother me too much because it wasn’t constant, but I thought it was more pervasive at night. 

I often cruised down Dairy Road on my bike in order to get back to my dorm. By doing so, I was almost always reminded of one of Tercero’s notorious smells. 

Christensen said sheep also resided nearby in 1967. The Sheep Barn is now located across Highway 113. “The cow barns didn’t bother us half as much as the sheep,” Christensen said. “Boy, do sheep stink.” 

Both Pierce and Thille Hall — Tercero’s original buildings — were deemed seismically unsafe and demolished in 2012. They were replaced with Pine, Scrub Oak, Currant, Live Oak, Sequoia, Mahogany and Hawthorn halls in 2014. In 2017, four more buildings opened, as part of the Tercero Phase 4 project.

bike in a tree

Dorm life hijinks: a bike in a tree. (Courtesy)

Thanksgiving meal on a table

The Thanksgiving meal. (Courtesy)

Favorite memories

Dorm life, as unpredictable as it was at times, was filled with memories that I cherish and great people I hope to remain close with. 

My favorite dorm memory was the time my floor held a Thanksgiving feast and celebration. We cooked various dishes in the community kitchen and were able to get other dishes brought to us by the parents of some of the people on my floor. The feast was held in our floor’s lounge, the week before Thanksgiving break.  

One of Christensen’s favorite memories was chatting with the veterinary students in Tercero’s cafeteria. They would tell her and other students about procedures they had completed — including all the gory details.  

“They were so forthright about the whole thing,” Christensen recalled. “We used to laugh raucously at their raw commentary, and of course that was encouragement enough for them to keep going.”

Where do we go from here? 

Most of my friends from Tercero are scattering around for this upcoming school year, moving into apartments or renting houses. I’ll be in an apartment this year, one that’s not very close to Tercero. Still, I plan to visit the cows and grab a meal at Latitude every once in a while, just for the memories.

Even though things are ending and changing, I’m excited for the new beginnings that will come with sophomore year. So long, Tercero!