After the beginning of the school year, when freshmen are still situating themselves within a new social structure, along comes First Rain of Fall. Beautiful naked bodies run through the grass of the Porter quad, shouting to the dimly lit windows surrounding it. The joyous group of students will soon visit every dorm on campus this night, spreading the message of love, open-mindedness, and creative freedom.

Benjamin F. Porter College, known simply as Porter College, is one of the (currently) 10 residential colleges on the campus of UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) in Santa Cruz, California. It was the fifth dorm complex to be built and was thus originally known as College 5. In past decades, students were assigned to colleges based on their area of study. Though this policy is no longer in effect, the community consciousness of Porter lives on as home to those artistic, musically inclined, queer, hippie or generally countercultural in demeanor. It is definitely the haven for queer students and administration on campus, having once been ranked the college with the highest queer percentage in the United States. But this is by no means the defining characteristic for a college with such cultural (but not ethnic) diversity.

Despite this I would venture that the Porter community is the most unified on campus--for, surprisingly, architectural reasons. Porter's dorms are in two large [-shaped buildings, four and five stories tall, that face each other across a big, central quad: [ ]. This serves to contain all outdoor social activity to a common space. The other colleges are fragmented into different spaces and thus do not enjoy this simple psychological promotion of community. Another feature of the quad is the Porter stump, a huge redwood stump that is a work of natural sculpture and common a hang-out platform. Needless to say, there are a few pipes carved into the wood surface and much marijuana-smoking takes place. (Though recently the University put caulking material in the main piece, a despicable attempt at deterance that may have resulted in the physical poisoning of a student.)

I lived at Porter for almost three years so I have an obvious bias, but it truly is one of the most open minded, friendly places to be at on the campus of UCSC. We are also fond of making monkey noises whenever a tour group comes through. We're broadcasting our free-spiritedness (with the side effect of discouraging close-minded individuals from coming to our already overcrowded school--see the news story below). It is also graced by the Porter Squiggle sculpture (aka Flying IUD or Porter Wave) a campus landmark.

Some pics I found:

First Rain (nudity!):
http://people.ucsc.edu/~jte/

Quicktime VR scene:
http://www.ucsc.edu/general_info/vtour/porter.html

Quad:
http://www.ucsc.edu/general_info/gallery/porter_college.html
http://www.porter.ucsc.edu/halls/A4N/Quad.jpg

Stump:
http://www.chriscarman.net/photos/bustrip2001/399marioonthestump.jpg
http://www.chriscarman.net/photos/bustrip2001/400stumpbowl.jpg

Squiggle:
http://www.ucsc.edu/general_info/gallery/porter_wave.html

Misc:
http://oasas.ucsc.edu/v-ucsc/team.htm#7p

News story about the monkey noises:
http://www.porter.ucsc.edu/cgi-bin/fishrap/story.cgi?id=151

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