Bipartisan Dorm Review: John Jay

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Our second series during Orientation is called “Bi-Partisan Dorm Reviews.”  The series seeks to show both the pros and cons of living in whatever residence hall that you (hopefully) chose. For non-freshman housing, w
e did reviews of many upperclassmen buildings during the Housing Lottery, which you can see here. First up is John Jay. As always, feel free to add your own pros and cons in the comments.

John Jay is one of the two all-freshmen dorms, with just over 400 rooms. 90% of those are single rooms (of 110-120 sq. ft.), a stat that stands in stark contrast to freshman housing at most other schools. It’s this heavily-single setup that determines most of both the upsides and downsides of life in John Jay.


  • The single gives you privacy that few other college freshmen have. You’ll come to appreciate that privacy.
  • No need to ask your (randomly assigned) roomate to let you study.
  • The presence of the main dining hall and JJ’s within the building lets you walk to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night meals in flip flops. Even in January.
  • The prevalence of singles facilitates hall interaction, which many John Jay residents maintain makes floor friendships easier.
  • The proximity to Hamilton (where almost all the Core classes are) allows quick trips to class. Bwog’s done it in three minutes.
  • The roof of John Jay gives a fantastic view, though it has no railing whatsoever.
  • You might get a floor lounge with a relatively new TV and a foosball table.
  • The security desk has a very high wall, making it easy to bring anything in.
  • The John Jay lounge is a great quiet place to study (and gets wifi).


  • It’s tough to cram a big party into a 110 square ft. single. If you can do it, you’ve probably broken something valuable.
  • If your room faces 114th, staring at the dorms across the street quickly becomes nothing but awkward. Unless you have much bigger problems.
  • Unlike some other dorms, there’s not an assumption that Thursday – Saturday nights will be loud. Some actually think they can study, and nobody likes that “please keep it down” interruption.
  • The ease in traveling to the dining hall and JJ’s makes the “freshmen 15” easier. Chicken fingers every night for 8 months does not keep waist size down.
  • You might also get a lounge with a 13″ TV sitting on the floor and one chair. 
  • Access to that roof often means crawling out through a window, and hoping you don’t slip. Vertigo isn’t fun. 
  • The trash chute does not sit inside a closet, and can quickly smell like a turd covered in burnt hair.

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  1. timing

    What is the point of a dorm review when it's too late to do anything about it?

  2. jj5 05-06

    - jj is a dump compared to other freshman housing: sprayed cement bathrooms, lousy maintenance, bad toilets, peeling paint, and hallways that smell like trash!

    - if you live on 114th side and on any floor below 10, prepare to be woken up every morning at sunrise by a cycling car alarm.

    - no AC and poor ventilation!

    - slow elevators (which i only sometimes took...)

    - hot water is always randomly turning off

    - laundry room is always 110 degrees, cramped, and smells bad (walk to llc room)

    that said, i did have a good time. our floor was a lot of fun. i realized most of these cons when i spent the next year in furnald.

  3. random 08 alum  

    The doors don't block much noise so be prepared to know who is having sex and who is not. It's not as bad as Wien though.

  4. uber

    if you're on the 5th floor, prepare for a bunch of tools that will accost you for taking the elevator at 11pm with groceries for no other reason than that they heard they should get upset about it.

  5. fksdflksd

    I didn't make any friends in John Jay. Now that I think of it, I haven't made any friends at Columbia.

  6. What the?

    I'm kind of shocked by this:

    A study taken earlier this year showed that 58% of former Carman residents went on to become moderately to immensely successful in their professions as alumni, with a drastically smaller only 14% of John Jay residents doing the same. Research attributed these results to a "more socially and intellectually apt" trend amongst the former and a "graceless insecurity" pervading a great deal of the latter.
    Sample size was 1500 consisting of alumni from the classes of '94 through '05.

  7. jjs place

    needs to be a plus...fatness is endemic of just about every college student--not just jj'ers

    chicken fingers...a friendly face..and a tv tuned into whatever big sport/event there is (with pretty intense crowds sometimes) that you can reach in your boxers is pretty sweet

    also the wein walls are way thicker (hello mental asylum) than the porous jj ones.

    one of the biggest weaknesses left off is that because this is primarily singles you get a lot more anti-social/weird people on your floor (though maybe that's what makes columbia great)

    • DHI

      Word; fuckin' choice. If you want food, it's nice to get it easy. If weight gain is such a problem for you, just don't go to JJ or walk up stairs or something.

      Plus weight gain ain't all bad.

  8. JJ11 '04

    Just make sure some freshman douchebag jock (triple redundant, I know) doesn't get belligerently drunk and pisses on someone's door. Not mine, thankfully.
    And the Wien mental asylum rumor is such an uninformed rumor as to warrant a slap to yo face so hard yo momma can feel it. Wien is not that bad if you know what you're doing.

    • get the sand out

      the mental asylum thing is a joke based upon the fact that wein was pretty much built on grounds that used to be a mental asylum

      the thick walls, heavy doors, and drab interiors are pretty much the inspiration for the reference

      and yo momma? go back to watching fez on mtv and let the grownups give the incoming frosh advice

  9. now now

    everyone play nice.

  10. haha

    People are now competing/bickering over giving the Frosh advice?

    • nah

      its just that you always have the typical columbia douchebag who first somewhat indiscriminately criticize and entire 'clique' and then decide to knock another poster who's giving advice

      overall..i don't think there's necessarily a preferable frosh dorm as it'll depend on your personality and what you're looking for

      if you want some amount of privacy for studying or whatever you can go to the library..if you want to party you can get a fake id or go to campus parties

  11. bleh

    john jay lounge is far from quiet. there is always someone playing the fucking piano...

  12. '08 Alum

    It seems people vehemently defend whatever dorm they lived in freshman year and there is no way to convince them to the contrary. With that said I lived on JJ8 my freshman year and it was one of the best dorm experiences in my life. I also went to boarding school so of 8 yrs of dorms, probably the 1st or 2nd in rank. The singles are great, far superior to doubles in carman. You live life on your own schedule. Eat, sleep, study, etc whenever you want. If you want privacy close your door. If you want to be social open your door and people will stop by and say hi. Our entire floor was friends with each other. Obviously some closer than others but everyone got along. The floor partied together frequently. So while everyone is carman claims they were super tight with their 3 other suitemates, or even factoring in a few suites being extra close with each other, all 47 people on our floor were friends.

    Many of the pros/cons listed above are correct. And god help you if you live near the trash chute..but the social atmosphere of the dorm is grossly underestimated.

  13. mat

    It's really a crapshoot--it depends on your hall. The people will be much more eccentric than Carman, and that may be a good or bad or mixed thing.

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