Ranked: NYU classroom buildings
Being classist toward classes.
September 16, 2021
We all forgot what in-person classes were like, right? The eye contact, the small talk… the classrooms. Oh, how we missed the sluggish elevators, congested hallways and incessant ID checks! Is any NYU academic building free of these faults? Probably not. But some are more notorious than others. In the second edition of our Ranked series, we (Sabrina and Joey) present our list of standout academic buildings, worst to best.
POV: You are a second-semester first-year and your dad convinced you to take a coding class even though he knows you are too stupid to actually pass. You walk in, and the lights are sickly yellow. You’re on floor three — people would be pissed that you took the elevators just to go two floors up, but it’s also slightly too far to endure the walk upstairs. You end up taking the stairs for the four weeks you are there, until you have to drop the class because you have an F. The classrooms are even mustier than the ground floor; it feels like a math building. Why don’t they ever turn on the lights? The rooms are gray. You are depressed — mostly because each time you step into class you know the teacher wonders why you are dumb enough to get a 20% on the midterm. At least you can look outside, where people look happy and free and aren’t worried about having an F in the class you never wanted to sign up for because you knew you’d fail. Whoo.
POV: You’re running late for your 9:30 a.m. lecture on the fourth floor of Silver. You’re doing the speedrun from Union Square to Washington Square that you perfected years ago. Google Maps calls it a 12-minute walk? Please. It’s never taken you longer than 8. You reach your destination at 9:28, but you realize you forgot one crucial thing: everything about Silver was designed to slow you down. The doors are heavy; you struggle to heave them open. The elevators closest to you only go to the odd-numbered floors, so you decide to sprint up the stairs at your end of the building. This is a mistake. Each flight of stairs in Silver is twice the length of a standard flight. Your legs ache as you climb those last few steps. Your backpack weighs you down. You burst through the stairwell, sweaty. You’re panting but trying to downplay it. You hunt for your classroom. Was it 401? No, 404? No… it’s the one around the corner located behind the room you first checked. You take your seat at 9:33 a.m., defeated.
POV: You head to class early this time because you’ve learned that Mercer is farther from West 4th than you think it is. You climb up the oversized flights of stairs and take your seat. You unzip your backpack and pull out your assignment… which you forgot to print. You whip out your laptop and print that bad boy. A quick Google search informs you that the closest printer to Mercer is in the library on the top floor of Cantor. But you have ten minutes and it’s not that far. Right? So you rush down the stairs and realize that you’ve misjudged the distance once again, but you’ve already committed. So you squeeze into the Cantor elevator. It takes all of 30 seconds to print your homework. You’re back in the elevator. You’re hustling down Mercer Street. You haul yourself up the stairs for the second time. They’re way taller than they should be. What is up with NYU and tall stairs? Never mind that now. At least you’re in a safe space that isn’t the previous buildings. You retake your seat. The professor starts class by saying it’s okay if you didn’t print the homework; you can just email it to her.
Rubin — not to be confused with the dorm
POV: You’re a first-semester first-year and you just want to know what the fuck Writing the Essay is. You’ve been writing essays all your life, so why does the entire student body need to take a class on writing essays? There’s no air conditioning, the rooms are small and the tables are circular to force you into a socratic seminar. Your next class is at 25 West Fourth street. You only have fifteen minutes. The moment class ends, you’re halfway out of your seat even though the teacher isn’t finished talking because you have to book it. You walk under the arch and past the random psychic in the park. Your friend, whose next class is in Stern, is trying to keep up with you. It’s cold and rainy and your shoes are splashing in dirty New York Water. You. Are. The. Main. Character.
POV: You wonder how you have a class in Bobst. You’ve been to all the upper floors and they didn’t look like they had classrooms. When you stumble your way into Bobst — because 90% of the people didn’t have their Daily Screener or ID ready — you realize your class is in the basement. What? You try not to trip down the stairs— it’s slippery — and you find yourself in an underground maze. You’re overwhelmed by the number of other students looking for their classrooms, the random tables placed in the hallways and the lockers that never seem to be used. It’s dark down here. There’s no light — except for the eating area you frequent when you pretend to use the bathroom during class. You stare at the vending machine. You haven’t eaten all day and you’re starving. You make your way to the LL2 to print out a reading for your next class. And as if things couldn’t get any worse, you get an error message. Great, the printers at the library don’t work. You walk back up the main floor where you feel boxed by the golden bars surrounding the building. It is an optical illusion: just like this school.
POV: You pull up to the Tisch building and wander around the basement searching for your classroom. Confused, you ask the security guard where the room is. He redirects you to Stern. “Just trust me,” he says. Sure enough, you arrive at the Stern building and realize it’s named Tisch Hall. Who knew? You walk in and everything is shiny. You descend a sleek staircase that would fit better at the MoMA than in an academic building. You pass students wearing suits. You’re puzzled. You overhear a conversation about Waffle Wednesday. They have waffles here? You pass a balloon arch that spells out STERN. You know CAS would never spring for that, even though it’s two letters shorter. Frowning, you take your seat in your recitation, where the TA spends an hour critiquing capitalism. You feel like you’re not allowed to be here.
25 West Fourth Street
POV: You’re here so often that the security guard knows you and the routine of flashing your ID in this particular stairwell is calming. You descend into the basement where it’s always either too hot or too cold and the only light is fluorescent, but you don’t mind it anymore. You kill a few minutes in the little lounge area, scrolling through your phone and sipping the Starbucks you picked up on your way here. It’s a convenient route. You watch some amateurs try to print things, and their naivete makes you smile. You then wind your way through the maze of hallways. You locate your classroom by muscle memory, since every room in this building looks the same.
POV: You’re sitting with your pal in your Cultures and Contexts lecture. Your professor tells you that you’re going to watch a movie today. Cool! You pull out your notebook and prepare for an easy class. The professor dims the lights. It’s unexpectedly dark. Well, that makes sense since this hall is for movie screenings. You relax as much as the old seats will allow. You get comfortable. In fact, you’re kind of sleepy … Your friend nudges you awake. Class is over.
POV: You walk in from Kimmel after your last class and catch up with some friends in the hallway for half an hour. It’s nice. It’s clean. It’s so different from all the other classrooms at NYU. And there are windows. With natural sunlight! You like it because while your media studies teacher is droning on and on about Foucault and surveillance, you’re staring out the window. You think to yourself, “Wow. I’d kill for a coffee from Irving right now. Why is it so windy outside? When did it get so dark so early? Is it going to rain? Why is the sky so gray?” You stare at the top of the flat screen TV counting the minutes until you can leave. It’s the end of the day, you haven’t eaten, and it’s cold. The class ends two minutes late because your teacher likes to talk, and you take it personally. You have other things to do. You smile and thank her anyway, and realize how exhausted you are as you take the elevator down to the lobby.
Washington Mews Language Houses
POV: You’re taking an advanced language class that makes you feel sophisticated. You step into one of the stately houses on NYU’s prettiest street and you’re instantly transported to a country you’d much rather be in. You inhale the scent of musty books, hardwood floors and pretense. Mais oui, c’est ça, you sigh. You’re better than everyone else.