The Legends of North Campus

Historical image of North Campus.
Historical image of North Campus.

For decades at UConn, if you asked directions to the North Campus dormitories, you would most likely be met with a puzzled expression. If you asked where the Jungle was, though, chances are your interlocutor would have no trouble steering you in the right direction.

That this has changed is unthinkable to some Huskies who graduated before the early 2000s, when the place’s reputation began to change. The Jungle was made alcohol-free in 2002, a decision so at odds with its reputation that it prompted a story in The New York Times.

“I was a freshman in Northwest in ’05 and we definitely just called it ‘North,’ but the story of it being called ‘The Jungle’ was very well known,” says Sean Rose ’09 (CLAS).

The legends of the Jungle are many, from mass snowball fights between the “jungle rats” and the residents of South Campus to requisitioning dining hall trays to serve as surfboards down the muddy slope of the hill where the dorms stand. Perhaps no story of mayhem is as familiar as the one about returning veterans who were students on the GI Bill — in some tales, from World War II; in others, it’s the Vietnam War — who rode motorcycles through the hallways.

Are the motorcycles apocryphal? Read on.