Cowell Residential Life

Cowell Fountain

Welcome to Cowell College!

The Cowell/Stevenson Residential Life Office is located underneath the Cowell/Stevenson Dining Hall

The Cowell and Stevenson Residential Life and Housing Office 

The Cowell and Stevenson Residential Life and Housing Office is open Monday - Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.



Cowell College opened in 1965 as the founding college of UC Santa Cruz.
Our motto is “The Pursuit of Truth in the Company of Friends.” As the founding college, we are dedicated to the campus’ ideal of creating a small, supportive community for students of any major within the context of a large research university. We welcome you to join us in this pursuit.
We offer a variety of housing options at Cowell College. Apartment-style housing complements our original dormitory-style residential houses. The apartments are available to continuing students.  When considering what residential life at Cowell College can be for you, remember one thing: much of what living on campus really offers is what you and some 800 Cowell students like yourself bring to it. Your attitude toward, and your enthusiasm for, your new living situation and particularly for the college is the real key in determining what your new life will be like. We do promise one thing… given the opportunity, we will do all we can to make you feel welcome and at home.

Our College Community

History and Community Traditions

Our traditions and history were established by the founding faculty and a small group of students who comprised the first class. Those pioneers created a small, supportive academic environment that still thrives today within the larger university setting.  Our motto, The Pursuit of Truth in the Company of Friends, represents our twin commitments to academic endeavor and supportive community.  As the first college, we strive to manifest the founding vision for UC Santa Cruz’s collegiate system: a community that invites and supports students from all academic majors and interests who come together to form a lively, interdisciplinary community.


Many special events take place at Cowell including College Nights, a tradition established at Cowell in 1965. College Night is a special dinner followed by a program providing an evening not to be missed.  Other college activities, mostly planned by students, include dances, poetry slams, open mics, films, live music and other recreational and social activities.

Student Leadership

Cowell has an active and lively student government, the Cowell Senate. This group meets weekly to discuss student issues, allocate student activity monies, and represent Cowell students in campuswide government and committees. Senate members function as liaisons between Cowell students and the university. Up to ten select persons are chosen in the spring, by lot, in accordance with the principle that each member of the community is equally fit to serve as a representative. During the year, anyone may join the Cowell Senate by attending regular meetings. The Senate also runs a free DVD library.  Other students groups active in the college have included clubs and organizations based on books, chess, jogging, peace, knitting, and social justice issues. We support student groups and clubs based on student interest and initiative. We look forwarding to supporting your ideas and interests.


Cowell is home to a 24-hour computer lab, a PC/Mac lab located in Apartment Building 1.  Students can work on papers, connect to the Internet, send e-mail, create web pages, and scan graphics. Visit for a complete list of available software.

The college features many student lounges and a study library. Each residence hall has a lounge. The Fireside Lounge, located next to the Coffee Shop, is available to all students and is the venue for many student events. Our apartment complex features a multi-purpose community room with stunning views of the Monterey Bay.

The Page Smith Library, named in honor of Cowell’s founding Provost, serves as a reading and study room. It is open nightly until about 2 a.m.  The library is a close and cozy alternative to the larger campus research libraries.

Campus Life - A Time and Place of Growth and Discovery

Many college students living in the residential buildings make two important discoveries: first, they have more individual freedom than before; and second, the intense academic demands and close living arrangements require more self-control and individual discipline than ever before. Because the residential community exists within the larger structure of the university, college residents remain subject to university policy and federal and state laws. Within these boundaries, however, considerable opportunities exist for self-direction, intellectual development, and personal growth.  Education takes place best within the context of community: a result of the combined efforts of students, faculty, and staff. Cowell respects the rights of individuals and the drive to explore new ways of self-expression. At the same time, we expect the individual to assume responsibility for working with the community to support and develop guidelines and expectations for healthy group living.  Your success will depend largely on your ability to balance two important aspects of college life: the interests of the individual and the interests of the community. The college staff does not assume the role of a parent, but behavior that violates university policy will be addressed. Violation of policy results in disciplinary warnings, sanctions, and/or loss of housing privileges.