Claire Li/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Students walk past North Campus' new Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall, which completed construction earlier this year.

September 22, 2022

Similar to Last Year, New North Campus Dorms Provide Luxury But Social Isolation

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Three new dorms tower over the low rises after the additions to the North Campus Residential Expansion project this year. Residents of Hu Shih Hall, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall and Barbara McClintock Hall voiced how their new homes remind them of grand hotels, but bring social drawbacks with living in an isolated environment — a trend for new University housing.  

The NCRE project aimed to provide not only 2000 additional beds for first-years and sophomores, but also comfortable spaces to study and socialize with friends and other residents. Last year, the University added two new dorms with similarly modern amenities, but residents reported feeling lonely and isolated as well.

Lounges in the new dormitories include brand new televisions 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 overhead lighting. Students have settled into what feels like a five-star hotel room with ease.

“It made the transition into college a lot easier to move into somewhere a little bit more comfortable in comparison to other Cornell dorms,” said Hu Shih Hall resident Alexandra Zwiebel ’26. 

However, one resident of Hu Shih Hall explains the downsides of having everything at his disposal within his floor.

“They made it kind of a home where you don’t have to leave the actual dorm itself,” AJ Nambiar ’26 said. “It’s to your own discretion whether you want to be social or not, while in [other dorms like] Donlon you’re kind of forced [to socialize].”

Most residents agree and add that the sterilized, hotel-like feel of the hallways separating the small lounges does not facilitate socialization.

“[It’s] very much, ‘you go to your room and then you leave’ — there’s less meeting people even within your pod,” Anna Cerosaletti ’26 said who lives in Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall. 

In older dorms, like the low rises, suite-style rooms allow residents to meet each other. In these buildings, the main lounge areas, while not modernized with appliances, are larger and contain activities such as board games and ping-pong for residents to play.

Because of how new the halls are, their bare-boned walls and lack of character have left residents doubtful that social traditions will be created by the end of the year. 

“There’s just not as much engagement and I think it comes back to how the dorm is set up,” Cerosaletti said. “The whole floor isn’t really close, so I don’t think people would go to [social] events.”

Cerosaletti further believes that most people on her floor had made friends with those in other dorms. Residents seem to have come to the consensus that they actively need to seek out floormates if they want to meet, where older dorms have a layout that makes stumbling into new people effortless.   

Even though lounges may be small, one of the new residential halls contains a vast space for studying, along with a numerous variety of pastries and drinks at students’ disposal. 

In the center of the three halls, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall holds the brand new Novick’s Cafe, which has been convenient for residents to grab a quick breakfast or snack in between study sessions.

“I study all the time in Novicks — I spend way too many B[ig] R[ed] B[uck]’s here,” Alexander Cerreno ’26, resident of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall, said. “I like the architecture and the lighting that they have downstairs. For some reason it helps me get my work done and makes me feel productive.”

Some students believe Novick’s ambiance also provides a social setting that the dorms otherwise seem to lack.

“It’s like an artisanal coffee shop atmosphere in that it’s not so loud and crazy — people stay to hang out and talk to friends,” Zwiebel said.

While residents have doubts that the new additions to North will become as social as other dorms, they feel content and lucky to be the first class to have moved in their halls.

“I’m glad I moved to this dorm, I wouldn’t trade it at all,” Cerreno said.