GUEST ROOM | Why the Name Hu Shih Deserves to Be on One of Cornell’s 600 Buildings

On the evening of June 21, I joined thousands of other first-year Cornellians in a battle to access the crowded housing portal to see our housing assignments. After finally getting access, many of us flooded Discord chatrooms with messages along the lines of “What is a Hu Shih?” upon winning the lottery for a brand-new air-conditioned room. 

Once all the dust had settled, questions like the one mentioned earlier remained in our heads. Though I will be a fellow Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall resident myself, I also wondered about the origin of the name “Hu Shih Hall,” the building adjacent to mine. The answer was easy to find. After just some simple Google searching, I quickly learned the significance of Hu as an individual and realized how fitting (and even overdue) it was to name one of Cornell’s over 600 buildings after Hu Shih 1914. 

According to Cornell’s official news release, the buildings of the North Campus Residential Expansion were named after “deceased Cornellians with inspirational, groundbreaking careers and who reflected the history of Cornell’s diversity.” This is so true for Hu — so true to the extent that it actually surprised me to learn that Hu Shih Hall is the first building on campus to be named after an international alumnus/alumna, and also the first to be named after an individual of Asian descent.