A Campus Is What You Make It

Taylor Nicole Rogers
Because of the surrounding buildings, Washington Square Park feels like the center of NYU’s campus.

NYU is known for being a college that lacks a campus — and in a literal sense, that might be true. However, many students strongly believe they know exactly what NYU’s campus is and appreciate its quirks.

Considered to be at the heart of NYU’s urban campus are Bobst Library, Kimmel Center and Silver Center, all surrounding Washington Square Park. Since moving to its home in Greenwich Village from the current site of Bronx Community College in 1973, the university has acquired nearly every building surrounding the park.

LS freshman Juhi Dalal believes that having a campus that is not walled off from the public adds to the university’s goal of exposing students to the world around them.

“People outside the university always complain that NYU doesn’t have a campus, but I feel like it basically does because most of the buildings that students interact with are centered around Washington Square Park,” Dalal said. “Even though the park’s not NYU’s land, it feels like it is because it’s our center.”

While Washington Square Park is almost always teeming with NYU students, some, like LS freshman Regina Wright, say its openness prevents it from completely taking the place of a more traditional university quad.

“Because of our campus, fraternity housing isn’t a thing like it is at a lot of schools so we don’t have that space to have a good time together,” Wright said.

Tisch freshman Taylor Friel believes that NYU’s lack of private space for students to gather has a definite impact on NYU’s social life.

“Maintaining a social circle is much harder than it would be on an enclosed campus where you see students every day,” Friel said. “Here there are students, but you also see parents out there and young adults and old people who live here. Social life is just as big here, but you do have to find it yourself.”

Dalal added that once you do find your friends, however, the unconventional features of the campus make student life more exciting.

“I really like that we can walk a couple of blocks and be in other parts of the city,” Dalal said. “Other college campuses don’t have that added aspect of other fun things to do nearby. It’s really nice to be able to meet other people and not be stuck with other students all the time.”

Although students cannot seem to agree on the exact borders of campus — some claim it extends as far north as 37th Street while others say it ends at Union Square — they agree that it feels like home.

“This campus makes you think of yourself more as a citizen of the city than a student,” Friel said. “When there are less tourists around, I feel more like I’m walking through my park, my city and my campus.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 25 print edition. Email Taylor Nicole Rogers at [email protected]

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