The New Housing on West Campus

Grass!I’ve been living in one of the new west campus houses (Becker house) since sophomore year.  I think the new dorms on west (oh wait, I think I’m supposed to call them houses) are the best on campus, but that is not to say that they’re perfect.  The best aspects of the housing on west are that they are very close to central campus (~4 min to get to top of slope), they are new and clean, and they are nice and quiet at night.  This is in striking contrast to my far away, dirty, old and nosy dorm room freshman year.  These are big pluses for west campus, do you really need anything more from your housing?  The rooms are smaller than the old gothics on west campus, but that’s not something very important to me.  (pictured right is Rose house (i.e. house 5) below are the gothics with the new Bethe house behind them)

What is heavily pushed by administration is creating a strong community in each house, but in reality I just don’t think it really works.  People in singles often stay to themselves and suites can be pretty social, but not with the rest of the dorm.  For a lot of people it’s just a place to sleep and keep all of your junk, which it is very convenient for.  I feel that those who want a very social living situation go to a frat or get an apartment with their numerous friends; they don’t usually stay on campus.  What is also pushed is student-faculty interaction and while there are some who do this a lot, the majority of students aren’t involved.

The worst thing about west campus hosing is that everyone is forced to purchase unlimited meals.  I think this is unreasonable as this is very expensive and way more than what most people need.  Also, west campus dinning announced reduction in its service for next year right after everyone signed up for housing.

West CampusOn west every new house has its own dinning hall.  I suppose this is to foster community in each house and provide variety, but I think I would rather have one big, very good dinning hall instead of 5 mediocre ones.  But then again there is something to be said abut waking up on a cold windy day and just walking downstairs to get food, never needing to brave the outside.  This way I can spend inordinate amounts of time in Becker without ever going outside.  All the dinning halls on west have the same hours and usually the same kind of food.  I’d like to have the option to get a more reasonable meal plan, or to not have one at all, but alas, I suppose this is the price to be paid to live in the new dorms.

I like the idea of naming dorms after really awesome faculty (instead of big donators), but all the houses seem to be a little too obsessed with the person they are named after and put the persons face and name everywhere.  I suppose this is to help develop a unique character for each of the five different houses.  They all look pretty much the same inside and out; sometimes I still get them confused.  The only person I think it is valid to obsess over is Bethe.  Okay, so maybe I’m biased because I’m science obsessed, but he is mentioned in a lot of my classes, not just because he was at Cornell for so long, but because he is the person that first developed what we’re studying; he really did a lot.

Outside Carl Becker HouseIn Becker house where I live, there is one quote by Becker that is frequently used, “Freedom with Responsibility.”  The only problem with this is that Becker never actually said this.  It should be “Freedom and Responsibility.”  I’m not usually a stickler for slight mistakes, but with this misquote everywhere, it’s rather embarrassing not to get it right.  You might argue,  “It’s not such a big deal, it’s not like it’s written in stone anywhere,” but it actually is written in stone.  They really need to fix this.

Close Up

So while overall I like my housing and think that things are usually run smoothly, it doesn’t quite meet its grand envisioned mission.  I like how the university is trying something a little different, but I’m just fine with plain old housing.



11 Responses to “The New Housing on West Campus”

  1.   Johng Says:

    You complain a lot in your blog posts. You need to consider more of the positive aspects of Cornell. It’s certainly not limited to you, though, since on my trips back to Ithaca of late, I’ve found that the students have become more whiny and far less appreciative of their Cornell experience. As an alumnus, I don’t want to hear all this negativity, especially when I and others have and continue to give a lot to improve the Cornell experience (with particular reference to the West Campus housing initiative).

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