Cayuga Heights Photo Tour, 7/12

12 07 2008

The house of the fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon. The house has been occupied by the fraternity  since 1927. TKE was originally Kappa Psi, which became the Sigma Chapter of TKE in 1923. During this same time period, the local fraternity Scorpion was founded. The first TKE disbanded due to the hard times caused by the Great Depression, but Scorpion became the new affiliate of TKE (hence Scorpion chapter, which in my opinion is a really cool chapter name) in 1940. The fraternity Sigma Phi Sigma also merged with TKE in 1941 [1].

Farther up Highland we have the fraternity Tau Epsilon Phi. Um, their house could look better. I felt a little bad taking a photo of it and knowing I’d be putting it up, because it really was in shabby condition. The house was actually once the wing of the old house; they leased the property in 1949, and the wind was built in 1961. However, a fire “of unknown origin” destroyed the original house, so a new house was built connected to the relatively new wing in the mid 1960s. The building was last renovated in 1977 [2].

Speaking of which, this is the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity house. The house was built as an experiment by the architecture school in 1909 to teast the viability for poured cement for all the outside walls. KDR first occupied this property in 1952, and the new wing (the part on the left) was added in 1964 [3]. At least KDR is raising funds to repair the roof, it looks like it might need it.

So this was a treat to find. Today, this is the Westbourne Apartments building. Back in the day, it used to belong to a fraternity called Beta Sigma Rho. Beta Sigma Rho, or Beta Samach as it was originally called, was founded in 1910 by four Cornell students who were excluded from the current system because of their Jewish religion. By 1950, there were thirteen chapters. However, all good things come ot an end. Beta Sigma Rho’s Alpha Chapter, suffering from dwindling interest, merged with Pi Lamda Phi in 1972. The Pi Lams moved in to Beta’s house, and the organization adopted the name Pi Lambda Phi. The original Pi Lambda Phi house was closed (today, it’s the undergraduate admissions office). Then the Beta’s house was closed in 1978, and that ended their run at Cornell. One chapter survives; the Beta chapter at Penn state felt it would be better to go independent in 1975, so they did. Today, they have survived there as Beta Sigma Beta fraternity [4].

The house of Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) fraternity. Originally known as Caduceus chapter,  (now Zeta- for those of you wondering, a caduceus is the double helix with the snakes [5]), Alpha Gamma Rho has occupied this property since 1916, with the current house being constructed in 1961 [6]. Alpha Gamma Rho is the other agricultural fraternity (AGR = agriculture…like we couldn’t figure that out.)








West Campus Photos

9 07 2008

The Hot Truck is a West Campus icon. Located on Stewart Avenue just south of its intersection with University Ave, The Hot Truck[1]. The Hot Truck was founded in 1960 by Bob Petrillose, who called it “The Hot Truck” to differentiate it from “The Cold Truck”, a name that Louie’s Lunch used for its West Campus location from 1962-1981. Today, the truck is operated by Shortstop Deli, and sells subs along with PMPs, a pizza sub sold on french bread.

The West Campus houses, under construction. The house in the middle is House 5 until named otherwise. The house on the left is William Keeton House (House 4), slated to open in August 2008. The other three houses have already been opened; Alice Cook House in 2004, Carl Becker House in 2005, and Hans Bethe House in 2007. The houses are part of Cornell West Campus housing initiative. They are open to upperclassmen and transfers. In my experience, the house were astounding quiet whevered I visited, and although the dining was a pleaant experience, the houses were just a little too quiet for my preference. But then, I lived in the crypt that is Cascadilla, so who am I to comment?

Here, we can see the dining facility for Keeton. Notice that it has a variety of multi-colored glass.

The House of the Cornell chapter of Delta Phi has a truly special history. First of all, the house is colloquially known as “Llenroc”. The house began construction in 1867, as the private residence of Ezra Cornell. However, Cornell passed away in December 1874, and never lived in the house. It was finally completed in 1875, and used as a private residence. The house became the residence of Delta Phi in 1911 [2].

This staircase, also property of Llenroc, was dedicated in 1925 in memoriam to Morgan S. Baldwin 1915 by his father. Baldwin was a member of the Cornell Delta Phi chapter (Pi).



Random Photo Tour 7/6/08, continued

7 07 2008

The house of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity, known locally as Rockledge (which is the name of the house). The name fits because the house is built on the cliff overlooking Ithaca Falls. The house was built around 1900, with the fraternity moving in during 1913, four years after the chapter was founded. Cornell’s first president, A.D. White (1832-1918 ) was a member of the Yale Chapter during his college days [1].

The house of Omega Tau Sigma, a professional fraternity for veterinarians. I didn’t realize professional fraternities did this sort of thing. The house has been in their name since the 1920s. And in my opinion, for a small house, I really like the uncluttered appearance from the outside. It vaguely reminded me of Scandinavian houses. Until I looked it up just now, I honestly thought the house was a regular house that kept the letters as a throwback to history.

The former Redbud Woods site. I really don’t want to try and explain this, but a former patch of forest that was part of the old Treman Estate was bulldozed for a parking lot in 2005. The whole idea did not go over well. Student occupations of Day Hall, protestors from the college and city (including former mayor Ben Nichols), and a little backstabbing along the way. I’m not one for drama, I prefer my history untainted; and as you can see from the plaque that the city okayed but Cornell protested, the history is still a little too emotional for the local powers-that-be. for those who want to read the full story, here’s a wikilink:

Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house. The house was built in 1900 and has been continually in ATO’s posession. Major renovations were completed in 1989, and once again in the past year [2]. The house was originally designed by an alum of the house, although it used to have a mansard roof, judging from old photos. Due to renovation and structural issues, the chapter has not had a house in the past two years. Judging from this photo and the state of the grounds as I walked by, it looks like it will be reoccupied fairly soon.

The house of Phi Sigma Kappa. So, thankk you Phi Sig for making it such a pain in my arse to find information about your house. I can say this house was built ca. 1900, and has always been in the posession of Phi Sig. I only know that because I had to ask someone who’s in the house. It is in need of some repair, but at least the front side, with its columns, is still imposing.

722 University Avenue, built in the Colonial Revival Style around 1900. This house most recently served as a home to Alpha Chi Rho fraternity. Alpha Chi Rho was on campus from 1908-1978 (it was next door at 736 for some of that time), and when they tried to recharter in 1991-92, they lived here. I believe the chapter closed once again in 1997-98.

EDIT: Thanks to a tip from JB, I was able to find that the house was occupied by Lambda Upsilon Lambda, the Latino fraternity, as recently as 2004. The house is currently unoccupied.








3 07 2008

Lovely 4th of July display tonight.

Too bad the city of Ithaca and Ithaca College missed something. The business school was just finished in the past year. And it has a grass roof.

it was a nice diversion for me and my video camera to catch four fire engines racing to the scene.

Greek System, Pt. 2

2 07 2008

So, Cornell is known for having the second largest Greek system in the entire nation in terms of numbers. Pulling the data as I often love to do, the latest OFSA report indicates that out of the undergraduate student body of the university, 2,208 of 6,908 men were in fraternities, and 1,527 of 6,654 undergarduate women. were in sororities. Percentage-wise, that comes out to 31.96% and 22.94% respectively [1].

 It has always been my personal thought that the relative strictness of the Panhellanic Association, the governing body of sororities, has been the primary factor in the smaller amout of women in sororities. Their rush is a very strict system where girls visit all houses, talk for a few minutes with a sister at each house, and then each house selects the rushees they like, each rushees selects the three houses they like, and through some complex form of elimination and incrasing formality of clothing, hopefully a girl ends up in a house she desires to be in. The process is rigid and intense, and if a sorority rushees misses one component, she’s out of the process. My experience with the sororities suggests that they are all homogenous to some extent; other than some physical appearances and some mild differences in attitude, they’re all at least somewhat alike (I do have a personal preference to one, but it’s best not to disclose names).

Meanwhile, the rush procedures for fraternties is an entirely different animal. Guys are free to visit any house they wish in any order they wish. The house on North Campus and the houses on West Campus have specified hours for smokers, which are open houses. The terms smokers hails from back in the day, when rushees and brothers of a house would gather around and smoke cigars while getting accquainted with each other (most houses have done away with that aspect, although some do offer cigars if rushees are into that). Each houses has its own schedule of events otherwise; it;s up to the rushee to decide whether or not to attend a houses events. With any luck, he’ll find a house he likes, and the brothers will take a liking to him and extend a bid. If the bid is accepted, then he’s officially a pledge, and it goes from there.

I will say that I’m a member of a Greek organization. It serves me well for keeping in tracks of news on the Greek system. For the purposes of this blog, however, it would be meaningless to say which I am a part of. I am not here to espouse opinions about X frat or Y sorority.

In the meantime, I’d like to open the topic of two curious occurences in the Greek system from the past semester. Recently, Theta Xi and Delta Lambda Phi. Theta Xi was at one time an established organization on Cornell’s campus; they live in the house where Zeta Psi currently lives today. Although it was a b*tch to locate, it would appear that Theta Xi closed down its Cornell chapter in 1971 [3]. The newly reinstated Zeta Chapter seems to be reaching out primarily to transfer students; providing they can figure out a way to cater to the transfer student population (15% of Cornell is comprised of transfers), they could possibly establish themselves very nicely here at Cornell once again. Although, knowing that fraternities like Alpha Gamma Rho and Alpha Zeta have large transfer populations (agricultural fraternties that receive a large number of two-year students heading to Cornell), it could potentially create some tension.

As for Delta Lamdba Phi, I am just a little doubtful of them being very successful. DLP is a national social fraternity geared towards gay, bisexual and proressive men [2]. Apparently, they have extablished a colony at Cornell. While Cornell does have a notable homosexual population, most fraternities do not raise much of an issue when it comes to accepting a gay student as a member. I can think of several fraternties off hand that have openly gay brothers. Cornell already has an organization, Greeks United, that addresses homophobia in the Greek system and seeks to educate and ultimately eliminate the issue. That being considered, there’s not as large of a niche to be exploited, and i can’t see this fraternity ever having a substantial presence on campus; I doubt they’ll even manage to have a house. But, that is a personal thought, and I could be wrong; I often am.

If we go back a little further, Kappa Alpha Society, which closed in 1990, reestablished itself about a year ago. I haven’t heard much about them since, apart from seeing one Kappa Alpha pin on a guy when I was eating a dinner on West Campus last spring. Can’t say I’ve heard much otherwise, but my kindest regards to them and I hope that all is going well with the reestablishment of their chapter.




Undergrad Enrollment Trends

27 06 2008

I “love” the fact that Cornell wants to decrease the number of undergrads, and most of the facilities under construction are meant for docs and post-docs (researchers).

EDIT: Even funnier now that the economic crisis has them upping the number of freshman intended for a given class to go from 3,050 to 3,150 [1]. However, since this university gets a perverse sense of pride by having larger-than-expected class, seeing that number between 3250 and 3350 is probably the more likely outcome. Don’t foget the transfer students either; Cornell doesn’t necessarily have to house them, so they’d be more flexible in accepting them.

North Campus, Cornell

25 06 2008

So, I’m writing this entry after taking a short trek to Bear Necessities (Bear Nasties) located in Robert Purcell Center on the North Campus of Cornell. Since this is the closest food establishment to me, it serves very nicely as a convenience store for my sudden needs, even if they rip my face off when it comes to their prices. Seriously, like 75% more than the price of the same good at Tops.

So, let me segue into a little history. RPU was built in 1971, but not dedicated until 1982 (named for Robert Purcell- you can also find his name on the wall of donors for the construction of Olin Libe in the late 1950s). The building is known for Marketplace Eatery, Nasties, and the annoying self-operating toilets that never work when you want to, but rather wait until you reach for the t.p. Anyways, the whole place was remodeled in 2001.

The other community center on campus is Appel Commons, completed in 2002. Appel was the centerpiece of the $65 million dollar North Campus Residential Initiative, and was named for Robert ’53 and Helen Appel ’55 (yeah, the price tag to name that was $15 million, in case you were wondering). Appel is home to a small fitness area, an open lobby, and North Star eatery. In terms of preference, people tend to switch between Appel and RPU because theyre both fairly popular, but specialize in different foods.

As for the dorms, they were built in spurts. Technically, the first building north of the gorges was Risley Hall, built in 1911. Risley was named for Prudence Risley, the mother of Henry Russell Sage, of Sage Hall/Chapel fame. Note that it was dedicated by her daughter-in-law, for sage was dead by this time. Formerly an all-women’s dorm, unless you’re a thespian or seek to hide away in the only dorm really close to the arts quad, Risley isn’t a popular option. Although, it has the smallest single and largest double on campus, its own dining hall, and it quite opulent on the inside. And as rumor would have it, a healthy drug trade.

The next dorm built was Balch Hall. Balch was dedicated in 1930, a gift of Allan Balch 1889 and Janet Balch M.S. 1888 (Janet Balch’s alma mater, Scripps College, also received a donation that lead to the construction of Janet Jacks Balch Hall at that school in 1929 [1]). Balch Hall is the women’s dorm. The ladies there can be described three ways: 1) Their parents wanted them there 2) They were placed there out of sheer [bad] luck or 3) They genuinely wanted the quiet atmosphere without the distraction of boys. Yeah, I can say I’ve only met a few of the 3’s. Balch had a dining hall until 2000, when it was converted into the Carol Tatkon Center. *Guys, I recommend trying to streak through the Balch, as long as the RAs aren’t on the track team, and you know how to get out or where to hide. * Some RAs will m ake an issue about unescorted boys in the dorm, as will a few of the residents. Personally, I was only ever booted out once, and I was there all hours of the night. What I remember most was the very high ceilings in my friend L.B.’s room.

The next dorm constructed was Clara Dickson, named for A.D. White’s mother (what is up with naming buildings after one’s mother anyway?). Built in 1946, it is still the largest dorm in terms of number of residents in the Ivy League. The building from what I remember often seperated itself by wings and floors- I was an upper 2-5 resident, meaning my boundaries were for the most part the lobby and the side entrance; lower 2-5 was below that, and I never went there much except for a sociology project for my writing seminar. All in all, I associated with the twenty-one residents of my area, and maybe another half dozen scattered throughout the building. That was about it. The higher up you go floor-wise, the more luxurious the furnishings tend to be, and the smaller the rooms tend to be (why, you ask? because the largest spaces are on the “ground” floors, since they can’t be divided up too well due to the entrances).

The next dorm to be built was Mary Donlon Hall, constructed in 1961. This building is shaped like a thong. It’s also regarded as the most social of the dorms. I was in it maybe five times all of freshmen year, and from what I picked up, it really sounded like hit-or-miss when it came to social experiences in that hall. Don’t buy into everything that you hear. It was renovated recently though, so at least the furnishings are nice. Donlon was a women’s dorm for the first ten years of its existence as well.

***An aside, but the gym, Helen Newman (gift of Floyd Newman ’12, the same one as the Newman Annex across the gorge from the gym), was built in 1963. A little run-down and rusty, the building is set for a $15 million renovation in the next few years, including the addition of a second pool and more fitness facilties [3]. The bowling alley is in the basement.***

Starting in 1970, Cornell planned the high-rise/low-rise system. Some of the buildings are themed; HILC is building 8, JAM is building 9, and Ujamaa is building 10. 6 and 7 are unthemed (and 7 was home to a double murder in December 1983 [2]). The low-rises were completed around 1975. The high-rises would be completed by 1982; Jameson Hall (High-Rise 1) and High-Rise 5. Low-rises 2-4 were never completed due to a lack of funding.

Although a plan was launched to designed additional dorms under the guidence of architect Richard Meier, the plan fell through. It would not be until 2000-2001 that the Mews Hall and Court Hall buildings would be constructed. These are generally regarded well, although I have had friends complains that the suite-style setup was not exactly conducive to getting to know people outside your suite. Perosnally, I was in there maybe four times, so I can’t comment.

The townhouses, a throwback to the 1970s, are rather old-looking with decaying wood trim, and rather isolated from the social scenes of the other freshmen. At least they have a lot more living space. If you’re really unlucky as a freshman, Cornell will run out of space and stuff you into Hasbrouck, the neighboring apartment complex that is home to mostly grad students (and now with the demolition of the transfer center, transfer students may call Hasbrouck home as well). Cornell’s master plan calls for both of these to be demolished in the next ten to twenty years, and replaced with new dorms (the CC parking lot next to Sigma Alpha Mu will be torn out and dorms would be placed there as well).

With the exception of a couple of one offs like the Latino Living Center at Anna Comstock Hall (1932, reprogrammed 1994), that about sums up North Campus facilties. As a freshman, it’s convenient to all be in one place; you get to really bond with your class. As an upperclassman, it’s a pain in the arse to stay in contact with friends who are RAs or in a program house, because the place is just like an enclave and they hardly ever leave except for forays to Central Campus. I hardly visited North Campus during sophomore year because I lived on the exact opposite side of campus. Being closer now, I’m not sure if this makes me more likely to visit, but with the exception of more convenience store trips to RPU, my guess is “no”.