Azariah Joel & Noah Sonnenburg
The Santa Clara
April 25, 2019
The average first-year who wasn’t so lucky with their housing timestamp may walk by Graham Residence Hall with an unquenchable feeling of desire. Larger rooms, private showers, real closets and spacious lounges? What’s not to love?
Back in the day, that envy must have been even worse.
Sure, the building was smaller and less glamorous, but Graham residents of old had an edge up. They had a pool—and that’s better than any lounge offered today.
Santa Clara students were on cloud nine when Graham Hall’s pool was built during the 1960s. With temperate weather all year round, a backyard pool is a treat to look forward to after a long day of class. It was an oasis—a retreat from academics, athleticism and the eyes of others.
Graham’s pristine pool was surrounded by lush green grass and manicured flowers—an atmosphere you couldn’t find anywhere else on campus. The pool was a way for students to unwind and take a cool dip. It was the perfect spot for kickbacks or the thrill of a night swim in the warmth of spring.
Students would throw pool parties and play pranks in the water. The antics of these water-going Broncos were the stuff of collegiate legend. There was even a time when “a full-size powerboat somehow made its way into the pool,” according to Santa Clara Magazine.
But there was trouble in Claradise.
Unfortunately, the pool was shut down in 2005. There was no real reason “why,” but Santa Clara made the excuse that the cost for maintaining a pool and a lifeguard was becoming too unmanageable for the school’s budget—or so people say. Speculation says students were becoming irresponsible which led to its closing.
Irrespective of its popularity, the fortyyear-old pool was axed and an era ended. What used to be a tropical cabana scene is now covered with lawn chairs and BBQ pits.
Broncos of years past had their pool to reminisce about, but what have we got now? What, in five years time, will be the totemic image or unifying place that will remind us of Santa Clara? Do you know? Because I keep drawing blanks.
We have the Leavey pool, sure. But it’s just not the same thing.
The aquatic center feels too formal with its competitive line floats and metal bleachers taking up space. You can’t have a pool party or barbecue with its dampening mood of clinical athleticism.
With its barred fences and limited gathering space, the whole pool isn’t really conducive to an atmosphere of relaxation and community.
But having a socially-focused swimming spot isn’t the focal point of Santa Clara’s issues.
After consideration though, it begs the question: “What makes Santa Clara a special place to its students and the community at large?”
U.C. Santa Cruz has its redwoods, the Ivy Leagues are known for their marvelous, old architecture and schools of all shapes and sizes are kindling new programs which set up the campus as a more enjoyable, student-focused space.
For example, San Jose State University just spent $130 million on a new recreation and aquatic center which includes two football fields, three full-court gyms, a rock climbing wall and two outdoor pools, including a 50-meter lap pool. Time to amp up the competition, no?
Former Graham resident Bill Foley ’07 says that the pool was never removed, but “sealed with a cap and overlaid with sod” to cover the tracks.
Foley said when the rains would come, he and his friends would jump on the patch of grass to feel the ground “wiggle beneath them.”
Apparently, the rain would fill the entire pool and you could stomp on the unstable ground to move the water around. It was just like standing on a water bed.
Maybe one day Santa Clara will dig up the pool for old times sake. And maybe it’s about time they did.
Contact The Santa Clara at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.