Housing & Dining

Campus Life - A Time and Place of Growth and Discovery

At UC Santa Cruz, all students are housed in small-scale residential communities, which provide close-knit living environments within the larger university. Live-in student and professional staff members provide orientation, support services, safety and crisis response, and a variety of social, educational, and cultural programs for residents.

Freshmen are generally assigned to live in their college’s residence halls. Residence halls have common bathrooms and a combination of shared and private bedrooms. The specific room options available to you will be covered later in this guide. Our college also has apartments that will be an option for you in your subsequent years.


The Housing Application

When you complete your online housing application you will have the opportunity to rank preferences for various room and theme options. This will give us an idea of the types of housing you are most interested in.

You will also be asked to complete a Lifestyle Questionnaire. Roommate assignments are based on the questionnaire so it is in your best interest to answer the questions as fully, thoughtfully and honestly as possible. Specific roommate requests may be met as long as they are mutual.


Your Housing Experience

Assigning rooms and roommates is not an easy task. Your roommates may or may not become your best friends, but will surely be remembered simply because of the experiences you will share. We will do our best to find you compatible roommates, but please do not assume they will share all your lifestyle preferences. Regardless of where you live, remember one thing: much of what living on campus really offers is what you and students like yourself bring to it.

Your attitude toward, and your enthusiasm for, your new living situation 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.

Living in a Triple Room

Residence Hall Living


Merrill College has four residential buildings set amidst redwood trees and a central lawn. The buildings were transformed by a major renovation just a few years ago. Students living in the residence halls enjoy rooms with new finishes and windows that let in abundant natural light.

Our buildings have single-gender and mixed-gender floors. Bathrooms are all-gender and are designed to ensure privacy. On single-gender floors, bathrooms are primarily used by people identifying with that gender.

Each of our buildings at Merrill is a site for cultural exchange and learning. Individual buildings & floors, as well as the College Programs Office, create year-round opportunities for students to participate in programs that share and celebrate the diverse identities of our students. Many programs and places, such as College Nights, Moat activities, Cultural Center events, and our popular Merrill Market, bring the college community together.


Merrill College Room Options

Large Triple





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Housing Options and Themes

In addition to room options, there are also a variety of housing themes and options for those who are interested. Based on academic pursuits, hobbies, individual backgrounds, and lifestyle preferences, these living/learning options complement a student’s experience in residence. Unless otherwise noted, themes and options are in mixed-gender areas.

R.PAATH house (Stevenson Residence Halls), R.PAATH apartments (Stevenson Apartments), ABC STEM @ Biko (Oakes Residence Halls; available to Oakes affiliates only), Shabazz apartments (Oakes Apartments), ABC STARS (Rachel Carson Apartments; available to new transfer students only), ABC @ NIJL (College Nine/John R. Lewis College Apartments), ABC @ Cowell (Cowell Madrone Apartments). ABC themed living-learning communities are located at Cowell College, Stevenson College, Oakes College, Rachel Carson College, College Nine, and John R. Lewis College, and are available to students of any college affiliation. Directly connected to the Office of African, Black, Caribbean (ABC) Student Success and the African American Resource & Cultural Center, and designed for students whose interests span historical, present-day, and future experiences of predominantly African, Black, and Caribbean peoples, these communities intentionally create space for students to feel connected, safer, and supported in a community centered on the experiences of African, Black, Caribbean peoples. 

Utilizing the community cultural wealth model, students develop cultural competence/cultural intelligence, aspirational capital, linguistic capital, resistance capital and ally development through organizing, living, studying, and socializing with peers passionate about political, cultural, popular, social, and economic issues of the African Diaspora (supplemental application required). Learn more »

Residence Hall. This housing option allows those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and other identities within the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as allies, to live together in an open and supportive environment (only available in mixed-gender areas). Learn more »

Residence Hall and Apartment. Students of any gender live on the same floor or apartment and share a commitment to cooperative living through respect and consideration for one another. Bedrooms are single-gender while bathrooms may be designated as mixed-gender with private toilet and shower stalls.

Residence Hall and Apartment. Students of a single gender live on the same floor or apartment (availability is based upon demand). Bathrooms are primarily used by individuals who identify with that gender.

Apartment. UCSC’s Substance Free Recovery Housing offers students in recovery, and 100% committed to living completely substance free, the opportunity to live together in community. This unique community apartment is centered around camaraderie and support, especially in that everyone living in recovery housing agrees to fully adhere to the substance free recovery theme. The residents are supported by The Cove, UCSC’s Harm Reduction and Recovery Community Center where professional and student staff can offer information, health and wellness coaching, peer education, mentorship, and referrals, as needed. The Cove is near the apartment and also offers a large substance free community and space, substance free events, and much more!

To be considered, indicate a preference for this option in your housing application and then schedule an appointment with Jorge Bru where you can request access to the supplemental application (supplemental application required).

Jorge Bru (they/them), Assistant Director, Senior Specialist of Harm Reduction and Recovery Services, serves as the liaison for students interested in this theme housing area and can assist you with any questions or concerns you may have about this option. Jorge can be reached at jbru@ucsc.edu.

Residence Hall and Apartment. Trans-Inclusive Housing communities are intended to create safer and supportive living spaces for transgender, genderqueer, gender nonconforming (GNC), and gender nonbinary (GNB) students, as well as questioning and ally-students. A trans ally is someone who advocates for and supports members of the community and actively contributes to creating a positive, affirming, living environment for people of all gender identities. Students may room together regardless of gender. Please note that this room assignment is likely to be on a mixed-gender floor/apartment and all students share common areas, such as bathrooms (supplemental application required). Learn more »

UC Santa Cruz Dining

Students find mealtime an opportunity to meet friends, visit and relax, study, and, of course . . . eat! All students living in campus residence halls have a meal plan included in their housing contract. Meal plans are optional for apartment residents.

Your student ID card functions as your meal card and is accepted at the all-you-care-to-enjoy dining halls situated throughout the campus, and at all UCSC Dining operated markets, cafes, and coffee bars. Slug Points declining balance plans provide the ultimate in convenience and flexibility.


Deliciously Sustainable

Delicious, fresh menu items are served throughout breakfast, lunch, dinner, between meals, and late night! Our rotating menus provide variety and we try to always keep your everyday favorites available.

Our program is nationally recognized as a leader in sustainability and this means plenty of local and organic selections available to you. A wide selection of vegetarian and vegan options are available throughout the day and night, and our Nutrition Specialist helps to develop meals for those with restricted diets. Our staff continually strives to meet your needs.


Merrill College student
Students sitting at picnic table
Students in residence hall lounge
Triple room at Merrill College