Kresge College: A special place

A view of Kresge College from the north pedestrian bridge. (Photo by Nick Gonzales)

Kresge College has a growing number of notable alumni who are “Kresge types” to the core, among them Pulitzer Prize–winning Associated Press reporter and author Martha Mendoza (Kresge ‘88, individual major); Douglas Foster (Kresge ‘76, individual major), professor of journalism at Northwestern University and contributor to The Atlantic; Laurie King (Kresge ‘77, religious studies), a detective fiction author; and Reyna Grande (Kresge ‘99, literature), who won the American Book Award for her novel Across a Hundred Mountains.

Kresge students also take pains to bring voices of resistance to campus for special events. In May, Kresge hosted the historic Right Livelihood Laureates’ Conference featuring climate change activist Bill McKibben and whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg.

Current Kresge student Ian Gregorio said the idea of the “Kresge type” transcends student backgrounds and majors.

“It’s more of a willingness to be open to each other,” he said. “I know the people in my apartment building really well, and some people in the dorms don’t know their neighbors at all.”

Gregorio said the design of Kresge helps reinforce that openness because it contains many gathering places and spots where students run into each other and have spontaneous conversations.

“The Kresge feeling is all about openness,” he said. “When I lived in apartments at Kresge, they didn’t open up into a hallway. They led to the outside. It was so easy to walk out and say hello to people. People say, ‘Keep Santa Cruz Weird.’ I feel the same way about Kresge. Sometimes people think of it as a ‘weird’ place because it feels so much more open and relaxed.”

This dynamic helped Gregorio find his footing as a student at UC Santa Cruz.

“Kresge was a place where things really changed for me,” he said. “Kresge really jump-started my college life. That’s why I work Welcome Week and other huge events. These are the things that helped me become who I am today. I want people to have that same experience.”

Another current student, Bradley Jin (Kresge ‘19, sociology and feminist studies with a minor in physics) said Kresge tends to attract students who are willing to fight for what they believe.

“A lot of political action is generated out of Kresge, historically,” he said. “A lot of political movements have their origin at Kresge. Living here definitely pushed me to understand what is happening in the university, in the town and communities around it, and look for ways to help.”