Three new dormitories tower above the low-rise building following the additions to the North Campus Residential Expansion project this year. Residents of Hu Shih Hall, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall and Barbara McClintock Hall shared how their new homes remind them of large hotels, but come with social disadvantages from living in an isolated environment — a trend for new college housing.
The NCRE project envisaged not only 2000 extra beds for freshmen and sophomores, but also comfortable spaces for studying and socializing with friends and other residents. Last year, the university added two new dormitories with similar modern amenities, but residents also reported feeling lonely and isolated.
The lounges in the new dormitories feature brand new TVs and other amenities, including a mini kitchen. The actual rooms are no exception to the modern innovations of the new halls, paved with hardwood floors and lined with ample strips of adjustable ceiling lighting. Students have settled in with ease in what feels like a five-star hotel.
“It made the transition to college a lot easier to move into somewhere that was a little more comfortable compared to other Cornell dorms,” says Hu Shih Hall resident Alexandra Zwiebel ’26.
However, a resident of Hu Shih Hall explains the disadvantages of having everything on his floor at his disposal.
“They’ve turned it into a kind of home where you don’t have to leave the actual dorm itself,” said AJ Nambiar ’26. “It is at your discretion whether you want to be social or not, while in [other dorms like] Donlon you are a bit forced [to socialize].”
Most residents agree, adding that the sterilized, hotel-like feel of the hallways separating the small lounges doesn’t facilitate socialization.
“[It’s] very much, ‘you go to your room and then you leave’ – there are fewer encounters with people, even in your pod,” said Anna Cerosaletti “26, who lives at Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall.
In older dormitories, such as the low-rise buildings, the suite-style rooms allow residents to meet. In these buildings, the main lounge areas, while not modernized with equipment, are larger and contain activities such as board games and table tennis for the residents to play.
Because of how new the halls are, their bare walls and lack of character have left residents questioning whether social traditions will have been created by the end of the year.
“There’s just not that much involvement and I think it comes back to how the dorm is set up,” Cerosaletti said. “The whole floor is not really close so I don’t think people go to [social] events.”
Cerosaletti further believes that most of the people on her floor had made friends with people in other dorms. Residents seem to have come to a consensus that they should actively seek out roommates if they want to meet, where older dormitories have layouts that make it easy to meet new people.
While the lounges may be small, one of the new living rooms contains a huge space for studying, along with a variety of pastries and drinks available to students.
At the center of the three halls, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall is home to the brand new Novick’s Cafe, where residents could grab a quick breakfast or snack between study sessions.
“I study at Novicks all the time – I spend way too much B[ig] R[ed] B[uck]’s here,’ said Alexander Cerreno ’26, resident of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall. “I like the architecture and the lighting they have downstairs. For some reason it helps me get my work done and makes me feel productive.”
Some students believe that Novick’s atmosphere also provides a social environment that the dorms otherwise seem to lack.
“It’s like an artisanal coffee shop vibe, because it’s not that loud and crazy — people stay to hang out and talk to friends,” Zwiebel said.
While residents doubt the new additions to North will become as sociable as other dorms, they feel content and happy to be the first class to move in their hallways.
“I’m glad I moved into this dorm, I wouldn’t trade it at all,” Cerreno said.