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College in the Woods History

CIW Construction 1970               Student Protest of CIW Construction, 1970

Construction of College in the Woods, 1970        Protest of construction, 1970


College in the Woods was constructed in 1970-1972. The original plan called for the buildings to be spaced farther apart, similarly to Hinman College.  After students and local environmental groups shared their discontent with losing such a large section of the wooded area on campus, the plan was scaled down and the buildings were placed closer together. This closeness, many believe, has contributed to the close-knit community among the students that continues today.

Binghamton University Residential Life is known for its unique Collegiate Structure. CIW was the first residential community built with that structure in mind. An unidentified publication from the '73-'74 academic year describes CIW as: "Unlike the older dormitory complexes, College-in-the-Woods was designed from the beginning to include a full range of collegiate activities in an exotic combination of unusual architecture and an attractive natural setting."

Aerial view of campus, Fall 1970

Aerial view of campus, fall 1970.
Construction of CIW is visible in the upper right corner.

The residence halls in College in the Woods are named after the original Five Nations of the Iroquois League—Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. For CIW's first 28 years there were only four residence halls and the name Mohawk was used for our commons building that holds the dining hall, library, and programming space. When the fifth residence hall opened in 2000 and was named Mohawk, our commons took on the name Iroquois Commons. The name of the sixth nation, Tuscarora, has been given to the office and classroom building within CIW.


CIW Crest 1972

CIW Crest, 1972


The first two CIW buildings, Cayuga and Onondaga, opened in the Fall of 1972. The next two of the original four buildings, Seneca and Oneida opened in the Fall of 1973.

During the '72-'73 and '73-'74 academic years, Johnson and O'Connor Halls in the original Dickinson Community were considered a part of CIW for administrative purposes, as they were the only two buildings in their community housing undergraduate students.



"It seems to me that our College caught its second wind this past year as we gradually moved into and got accustomed to the odd shaped buildings-in-the-woods. I hope that my perception relates to something more than a personal, subjective reality – that new students, staff, and fellows of the College will find both the spirit and the physical facilities a stimulus to creative thought and personal relationships." – Carrol F. Coats, Faculty Master. From the '73-'74 Handbook.

It seems that the shape of our buildings have been thought of as "odd" from the start.

CIW, April 1973

View from Oneida Hall, April 1973

CIW Residence Hall Room, 1973
CIW residence hall room, fall 1973

CIW has always had "the most varied living accommodations," as noted in the 1976-1977 College in the Woods Handbook. At that time, CIW had 2-person rooms, 5- and 6-person suites, and 3- and 4-person "outside" rooms. Yes, these rooms had an actual outdoor entrance and were accessible without entering the rest of the building. Eventually these rooms were taken offline and are now used for storage space (thankfully, as students noted that they could be quite cold in the winter months). Now, CIW is the only community with both corridor and suite-style living options.


CIW Courtyard, 1976

CIW Courtyard, June 1976

CIW Courtyard Renovation, May 2001

Courtyard Renovation, May 2001

The courtyard areas of CIW have received a few facelifts and remodels over the years. One occurred in the summer of 1991—at this time the clock was fixed, new grass and walkways were added, and we received a brand new volleyball court. Another occurred in the summer of 2001—during this time the large sections of concrete were removed in favor of smaller walkways and stairs and more landscaping.

CIW Courtyard, Fall 2011

Courtyard, Fall 2011


Hoagie Hut, 1970s

In 1976, the Woods Hoagie Hut was the only mini snack bar of its kind on campus and specialized in hoagies, as the same  suggests. Now, CIW is home to the Woods  Diner, which provides students with snacks  8:30pm-1am all week long and is known for  its made-to-order milkshakes.


Each residential community has its own unique traditions. CIW has many, some of which have been around for most, if not all, of the College's existence.

Woods Olympics made its debut during the 1973-1974 academic year when there were only the four original halls competing. It was then known as CIW Olympics.

Casino-in-the-Woods, CIW's biggest event of the year, started in 1977 in Cayuga Hall as a "simple dorm function." In March 1978 it became a community-wide tradition with the purpose to "foster community pride, create more leadership opportunities, and host a huge party for the whole campus to attend." Casino became a charity event in 1980.

Casino in the Woods, spring 1979
Casino in the Woods, spring 1979




Last Updated: 8/21/15