Off-Topic: The Keyword Bar, Second Edition

30 11 2008

Sometimes, the search engine keywords that bring people here are better than any entry I could come up with.

[1] kappa delta dagger during initiation (11-24-08 ); “pi kappa alpha” ritual salt (11-22-08 )

Really now? Here’s a tip: secret rituals aren’t likely to be found online. Here’s another tip: blogs will save your search terms.

[2]sit on grass (11-26-08 )

Yes, I think we all enjoy doing that in the warmer months. But I honestly have no idea how it would be part of a blog, let alone this one.

[3]should i join sigma chi or sae cornell (11-26-08 )

Not my realm of expertise. This blog strives to maintain neutrality. Also, would you honestly trust any information that you find online? This is as bad as the fraterntity rankings that someone put on the Cornell forum at College Confidental (which I won’t link to, because it goes against my commitment to neutrality).

[4] corten steel (206 times)

Okay, I referenced this but once, when I was talking about Uris Hall. Now this blog has become a magnet for queries about “corten stell”, the most popular search item, “corten” (#2, at 70 hits), and cor-ten (#7, at 26 hits).

[5] delta chi cornell (21 hits).

Reasonably, searching for cornell and a given fraternity or sorority is sure to bring up this site somewhere within the search. Delta Chi seems to be the most popular search of the bunch, followed by Chi Psi (20 hits) and Sigma Chi (17 hits) respectively (identified by the keywords “cornell ‘fraternity name'”). Perhaps a little bit to my disappointment, I’ve never seen my own fraternity come up in a search yet, one of maybe five that I’ve yet to see in my keyword bar history. The most popular sorority is Alpha Omicron Pi, with only 9 hits.

[6]natural resources sucks cornell (11-08-2008 )

Funny, I know three or four natty rys majors who would say otherwise. I’m sorry to hear that.

[7]olivia tjaden (11-10-2008 )

If you’re going to do a search, know what you’re searching. Granted, there’s the extremely remote possiblity someone was searching for an olivia tjaden and not Olive Tjaden 25’, but that’s about as likely as a car driving through my window.

[8]cornell off campus house for rent my fat (11-12-2008 )

Fill in the blank? Any takers? Does the search bar have a space limit, because if it does, that’s a real shame for this person.

[9]have lost hope in cornell’s greek system (11-13-2008 )

Speaks for itself.

[10] cornell nastys (11-18-08 )

Plus one point for using the colloquial term of a popular Cornell dining facility. Minus five for failing to spell “nasties” correctly. This becomes even more ironic when you consider the news tidbit on Metaezra concerning the Cornell student who can’t spell.

Where Frat Houses Go To Die

29 11 2008

Okay, maybe not so much. Reasonably so, Cornell has seen many fraternities in its day, and while many still remain on campus, they often move during their tenure at the university. Other organizations have come and gone with the times. Well, the fraternity and its symbols may be gone to all but their alumni and the old yearbooks, but the houses…what happens to them?

It really depends on luck and the general mood of the times. The most common fate for Cornell fraternity houses is demolition, whether it be for a parking lot, an apartment building, or for a physical expansion of the campus. The Rabco Apartments (the rather worn-down brick buildings on the 300 block of Thurston) sit on the site of what was Phi Kappa Psi’s house. DTD’s old house is now a parking lot, as is Zeta Psi’s first house at Cornell (granted, it burnt down in a fire in the late 1940s). Kappa Alpha Society’s Victorian masterpiece was torn down for Hollister Hall in 1957.


This view used to be blocked by DTD’s old house. But now it’s a very nice parking lot.

Rather than continue on that depressing tangent, some houses are fortunate enough to find a new life. Some are for university functions. Pi Lambda Phi, having closed in the 1970s, is now the Undergraduate Admissions office. Triangle’s house (pre-1985) is the dorm 112 Edgemoor, and 14 South was home to Kappa Alpha Society (they moved here right before the demo and remained until they closed in 1990). TriDelt’s house prior to 1965 is now the Alumni House on North Campus.Image courtesy of Cornell Facilities website (

14 South was AOPi's house from about 1992 to 2006. In 2012, it became the home of Phi Sigma Sigma.

Some are converted into private residences. The Westbourne Apartments in Cornell Heights are the product of a conversion of Beta Sigma Rho’s fraternity house (they closed in 1972). 210 Thurston, now a private annex house, was the home to Sigma Alpha Mu for decades. On the 300 block of Wait Avenue, the light purple stucco house with the tile roof has been home to two sororities and one fraternity (Eleusis fraternity in the 1920s [1], Chi Omega prior to 1953, and Phi Sigma Sigma from 1954 to 1969).100_2440

Having your house turned into a co-op is another popular option. Examples include-Watermargin: a former house of Phi Kappa Psi).Prospects of Whitby: former house of Alpha Xi DeltaTriphammer Co-Op: Former house of Sigma Kappa and Chi Gamma sororities.660 Wait Avenue co-op: former house of Zeta PsiHowever, The best reuses are the most awkward ones. Like when another fraternity or sorority resides in your old house. Here’s ten examples of that:Theta Xi: Zeta Psi alumni bought the property after Theta Xi closed in 1971. Then Zeta Psi sold themselves to Cornell for a $1 in the 1990s to avoid paying property taxes. Now Theta Xi wants their house back, and their pulling Cornell’s strings. I love real estate drama, especially when I get it first hand from the Zeta Psi brothers.Phi Sigma Epsilon: After they merged with Phi Sigma Kappa in 1985, the Cornell house was closed. Alpha Chi Omega sorority moved in some time afterwards.Beta Theta Pi: Their house prior to “Castle on the Rock” is now Pi Kappa Alpha’s house. Granted, this was prior to 1906, and Pika moved in around 1917, so this is a very old example.Phi Kappa Sigma: “Greentrees”, their house up until 1990, became the house of Pi Kappa Phi within a year of the Skulls’ closing. Delta Phi Epsilon: This sorority founded their Cornell chapter in 1962, and closed for a few years in the early 90s before closing completely in 2003 [2]. They still own 115 the Knoll, which is Alpha Xi Delta’s current house. I’d like to point out the irony that AXiD closed in 1964, right after DPhiE arrived, and they reopened in 2004, right after DphiE closed. Rumor mill likes to circulate that DPhiE is waiting for the right moment to reactivate Cornell chapter, which is a source of angst for AXiD sisters living in the house.Alpha Epsilon Pi: Their house was occupied by Sigma Alpha Mu as a “second house” during the 70s’.Pi Beta Phi: Prior to their current houses’ construction in 1956, they lived where Alpha Chi Sigma professional chemistry fraternity resides today.Theta Chi, or Tau Delta Phi: AOPi’s closing on Ridgewood is nothing new for that house. Theta Chi lived there when they closed in 1999, after living there for around twenty years. Also, the chapter was home ot the fraternity Tau Delta Phi until that chapter closed in 1969.Chi Omega: This sorority, which reopened in 1987 and closed again in 2003, lived in Phillips House on Sisson Place. Current students will be more familiar with this place as the location of Sigma Alpha Mu’s house.Kappa Alpha Theta: Tridelt moved from the Alumni House to Theta’s original house in 1965. It wasn’t even a year after Theta disaffiliated after having issues with their national.Last but not least: this house, former home of Alpha Chi Rho (defunct), Pi Kappa Phi and Lambda Upsilon Lambda, is still up in the air for renovation:100_1370

Anyone have any news on any plans for the building and possible redevelopment?[1][2]

The Ithaca College Greek System

24 11 2008

So, I’ve always found it vaguely amusing that although officially Ithaca College doesn’t recognize Greek fraternities and sororities, their letters still manage to appear at events like Relay for Life over at Barton Hall.

Officially, IC recognizes three professional music fraternities and a performing arts professional fraternity (which has since closed). In terms of the student population, these are a drop in the bucket when it comes to size and importance/recognition. [1, 2]

Not that it was always this way. Ithaca College once had a thriving if smallish Greek system. Thing is, Delta Kappa fraternity (which had only a few chapters anyway) brought the system down in 1980 with the death of a pledge. According to the book Wrongs of Passage:

A long-standing tradition of forcing pledges to perform calisthenics in a steamroom with the heat turned up high finally claimed a victim, Joseph Parella, 18.”

Which just goes to show you what can happen when people in charge of safety and planning exercise incredibly poor judgement.

Still, the system does exist in some weird underground sort of way. I don’t think they even had houses back when they were recognized, since Ithaca College is an all-residential college (meaning most students live on campus, with the exception of seniors in an apartment perhaps), and they certainly wouldn’t have them. A relatively thorough google search brings up some of the underground fraternities and sororities of IC:

Delta Kappa- Apparently it still exists, though merely as a shadow of its former self. [3]

Pi Lambda Chi

Phi Kappa Sigma

Alpha Epsilon Pi

Phi Iota Alpha (Latino interest fraternity)

Phi Mu Zeta (sorority)

Gamma Delta Pi (sorority) [7]

In conclusion, they’re underground; most of the IC students think they’re stupid or haven’t heard of them; and they barely manage to exist. If anything, this should be a lesson on what can go horribly wrong if due safety and precaution aren’t exercised.








The Goldwin Smith Hall Addition

20 11 2008

Perhaps I’ll still have some construction tidbits to write about after all. So, up for review for the Ithaca Planning Board this month is a sketch review of the Goldwin Smith Addition. The “Goldwin Smith Annex” is a $45.1 million, 60,000 sq. ft addition in the back of the building [1], facing East Avenue, a la the Lincoln Hall addition in 1998. The GA Annex is set for a targeted completion date of Summer 2011, but given the current economic situation, we’ll see if that changes down the line. To quote the capital budget plan (first link):

“This project will design and build a new building adjacent to Goldwin Smith Hall to provide approximately
30,000 to 35,000 net square feet of new humanities and social science classroom and academic department space on the Arts Quad. The new space will address partially a chronic shortage of academic space that has characterized this area of campus and which has been exacerbated by recent and projected growth in faculty and programs in response to university initiatives. The current shortage of space has resulted in: (a) some faculty sharing offices or rotating among offices based on the pattern of temporary faculty leaves; (b) a lack of adequately sized classrooms and lecture halls; and (c) inadequate space for lecturers, graduate students, and staff.”

Where’d they get the 60,000 sq. ft figure from? My personal guess is renovated space in Goldwin Smith.  I’m not a fan of inconsistencies. However, the old budget plan indicates that an architects should have been selected in fall 2007.

So, unfortunately, the sketch plan brings no mention of the architectural firm, which makes the task of getting a rough idea of the design a veritable hell. However, thanks to the master plan, we actually have an idea of the massing:


So, the rough massing concept seems to be three connected but otherwise independent structures, all of similar massing (and therefore roughly the same square footage). If we use the 60,000 sq. ft figure, except three two-and-a-half story buildings with footprints of about 7500 sq. ft each, which fits the area rather snugly. If it’s the 30-35,000 figure, we can except the footprint to be smaller, but the height massing will likely be about the same to maintain massing consistency with the main building.

In the meanwhile, I have requests filed in with the contact person for this project asking for any possible rendering or at least the architectural firm responsible, so I’ll come back to edit this post, hopefully in the not too distant future.

[1] —page 54


“D. Sketch Plan, New Humanities Building, Cornell University (materials to be distributed at

Number Judging

13 11 2008

I should really make it a point not to go to IFC elections. To maintain impartiality, I will not use the names of any candidates or any fraternities directly in this blog. That won’t stop the curious from going and looking them up, but that’s no concern of mine.

One of the positions I thought could be easier to determine if ones’ vote was the more appropriate choice is for the IFC’s recruitment position. The logic here is that looking at a fraternity’s membership intake over the past four semesters is a strong indicator of their abilities to recruit, what brought these individuals in and what they’ve been doing since then (in this case, one candidate is a junior, and although I can’t find anything on the other candidate’s fraternity website or on facebook, I would at least hope that he’s a junior. Otherwise, we all just made a terrible mistake, because a sophomore is in no way qualified for such a position).

So of course, the new OFSA report has been released [1] (yay!). As for the candidates, well say the first is from fraternity X, and the second from fraternity Y. Here’s their membership numbers:

Fall ’06, Spr ’07, Fall ’07, Spr ’08

X: 18, 37, 32, 45

Y: 40, 63, 44, 59

I’m inclined to think that fraternity X must have tried something new that was successful. I’m inclined to think Fraternity Y did roughly the same program both years, and it didn’t pay off as well last year. (Please don’t bother posting the “smaller number, better quality pledge” argument. We’ve all been around the block enough times to know that with the number of bids fraternities “bestow”, it becomes a game of chance with other houses and therefore that argument is a load of bullshit). We elected Y. Granted, you can’t exactly pull this information up in the middle of the meeting, and you don’t find out the candidates until the meeting in many cases. I s’pose what helped me make my choice is that Y wants to retry the failed “Meet for Greeks” program that I criticized in a previous entry. In a sense, this is looking back on the decision to see if it was a good one. For the system, it’s increasingly apparent that it wasn’t.

But hey, what do I know? I’m just letting statistics play a role in my judgment.


A Little More Cornell History

10 11 2008

Photos obtained from the book “Cornell in Pictures: 1868-1954”, compiled by Charles V. P. Young 1899.


As mentioned previously, Sibley was constructed in three parts; the first, which is the West Wing of the current building, was built in 1870 and named for one of the original trustees of Cornell, Hiram Sibley. The East wind would be built in 1894,and the dome was constructed in 1902 [1]. Apart from stone Row, this was the first building that the University built that still stands today (the university did not build Cascadilla Hall).


A map of campus, circa 1954. Some of the notable differences

I. Kappa Alpha Society’s house was where Snee Hall stands today. The house was torn down to facilitate construction of Hollister Hall in 1957-58, so KA moved to South Avenue. The Old Armory, built in 1892, was also torn down.

II. The road that was Central Avenue up until the 1990s cut between Franklin (Tjaden) and Sibley. Morse Hall would be torn down within a year of this map’s publication to make room for a parking lot, which would then be replaced by the Johnson Museum of Art that began nearly two decades later.

III. Boardman Hall is still there…in terms of aesthetics, I wish it was still there today too.

IV. ILR was located in temporary buildings (quonsets) on the Engineering Quad (which still had yet to fully develop). Law Hall, Moore Lab and the other smaller buildings where the ILR school stands today were the vet school buildings. Schurman Hall would come on line five years later, which facilitated the demolition of Law Hall in 1959, and for the construction of Ives Hall and Catherwood Library, which would be completed in 1962.

V. The Johnny Parson Club. More on that later.

VI. Alpha Xi Delta’s House is where the Prospects of Whitby co-op is located today. AXiD closed in 1964 and would be off campus for 40 years. Even the house they live in today is still own by Delta Phi Epsilon sorority (which closed the year before Alpha Xi Delta was brought back to campus). Chi Omega lived in the light purple house with the red tile roof on Wait Avenue, and would move to Phillips House (Sigma Alpha Mu’s current house) when that building was built on Sisson Place in 1956.


A poor photo (my shaky hands, I regret) of the Statler Inn. Prior to the 150-room hotel built in 1986-87, the Statler Inn was the premier facility, with “modern classroom” and 36 rooms. Another hotel was located in the upper floors of Willard Straight Hall where the lofts are today, and those would play a prominent role in the takeover of Willard Straight in 1969.


Prior to the Maplewood Apartments, veterans attending Cornell post-WWII had the option of living with their families in “Vetsburg”, on Maple Avenue.


Back in the days before Day Hall, the lot was the site of a parking lot and the house of Professor Babcock, which was the first faculty house built on campus. Back in the day, it was common for houses to be on campus, where the Human Ecology school is today, where the Engineering Quad is today, and even on Central Campus. This was the last central campus house, and it was torn down to facilitate Day Hall’s construction (completed 1947) [2].


To save my breath, I’m going to quote a DUE from August 23, 2007:

“The Johnny Parson Club was named after a mechanical drawing professor in the Engineering college from 1895 to 1938. It’s said that he was the one who established ice skating on Beebe Lake.  In addition, it was he who began the Cornell hockey tradition, by encouraging students to form a team.  In 1922, the University built a two-story facility where skaters could spend time, eat, drink, and warm up, naming it after Professor Parson.  However, in 1958, when skating events were moved to Lynah Rink, the University chose to take down the top two floors of the Club.  The remaining basement area was covered and is now used by Cornell Outdoor Education. [3]”

Rather nice place, from the looks of it. Tudoresque.


Bacon Baseball Cage. The first Cornell mascot bear, Touchdown I, was housed here in 1915. [4] The building would be taken down for the addition of the press-box and more seats at Schoellkopf.


Laying the cornerstone for Goldwin Smith Hall in 1902. The building that is currently the north wing was constructed earlier on as the Dairy Science building.


Law Hall, a couple small ag buildings, and the third observatory. It would be torn down for Barton Hall in 1915, and replaced with the observatory on north campus in 1924.


Schuyler House, the grad dormitory, used to be Cornell Infirmary. Next door is the Sage House. This was a time when students lived down the hill in fraternities or boarding houses, so it made sense to have the infirmary between the city and the college.


Speaks for itself. Screw pumpkins on the clock tower, I’m going to go tear down the bridge into Collegetown.


Fancy arc lighting. The house in the back was the stately home of Presidents Adams (1885-1892) and Schurman (1892-1920). It was torn down for Baker Lab shortly thereafter.


All the functions of a 1900s barn (where the CCC is today), all the appearance of a redneck’s idea of Count Dracula’s castle.


Can we reconstruct this building as a dorm? Please? Hey, I know Morse Hall was burnt down by a fire and all in February 1916, but the design can be retrofitted with today’s safety standards. Really.