First-Year Dorms: A Play by Play

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In which ex-freshman Parker Fishel imparts his first-year dorm wisdom.


There is a magnetism about Carman that tends to polarize its residents.

There are some that are fiercely loyal to the residence hall, almost to the point of confrontational. They will hear nothing of the overflowing trash bins and it’s resulting stench, nor the overpowering debauched bacchanalia of the place. To them, this is just the ambiance and you couldn’t get a better I’m in New York City! Freshman Year! No Parents! Let’s Party! vibe anywhere else in the city (well, okay, probably at NYU, but those damn hipsters would never admit it).

The other sect of Carman’s residents begin to reveal themselves progressively throughout the year, though never to fellow Carman-ites who would take the slightest hint of negativity as high treason. These are the kids who find the whole scene kind of, well, grotesque. You’ll find them nesting in Butler, Lerner, anywhere that isn’t Carman and when you ask them where they live they say “Carman” with reluctance. But hey, to each their own.

I would, however, like to leave you with my favorite Carman anecdote. One Tuesday night, I was going up to a friend’s on the 6th floor to borrow an air mattress. In the elevator was a girl who looked a little weirded out; I soon found out why. On the floor of the elevator was a piece of toilet paper with smeared excrement on it (to put it nicely). I can’t say whether this in particular was a common occurrence, but I can say that it was gross. Needless to say, I took the stairs back down.


Furnald is a bit of a mystery. The first years who live there are typically really nice, but they rarely talk about life in their dorm, leaving its true inner-workings to the imagination. Perhaps it is Furnald where the prodigious X-rated sex romps and nude parties oft cited by everyone’s favorite Conservative pundit Ann Coulter take place. I don’t know; I’ve only been in Furnald twice. However, this certainly wouldn’t be the first time Coulter has known something I haven’t.

John Jay

Oh John Jay! Home of the most beautiful dining hall in the Ivy League, Health Services (which must have a Halliburton-esque relationship with the prophylactic and lollipop industries) and many floors of happy first-years. It was also home to what was the Freshman Oval Office, site of the Class of 2010’s biggest scandal, a convoluted tale of racism, with some death threats thrown in for good measure. It was a sordid affair, but fortunately, the case was a rarity at Columbia.

John Jay has arguably the best dynamic of the first year dorms. There is a time for work and a time for play, with everyone showing respect for each other in terms of balancing the two. Other than the aforementioned incident, John Jay was relatively tame. Sure, there were stories of people getting drunk and pissing on their RA’s doors, fans being set up in the hallway to disseminate the smell of smoke and people breaking elevators, but it’s all good college fun in the spirit of class camaraderie. “Floories,” a phenomenon living embodiment of that bond, are most prevalent in the Jay. Floories are a close-knit group who adhere to the we-should-be-friends-because-we-live-on-the-same-hall aesthetic. This arrangement is most common in the beginning of the year, but begins to splinter once people come to the epiphany that just because I like movies and you like movies doesn’t mean we have to be best friends.


If your idea of excitement is a fire drill and your idea of gossip is that you saw two people in the shower together, you’ve come to the right place. The Living Learning Center, composed of Hartley and Wallach, is a timid, peaceful place. With less distraction and more seclusion, focusing on academics and extracurricular becomes easier. Yet, this fragmentation from the rest of first years can prove troublesome in terms of initially meeting people. Despite aims of fostering ties between students of all years, most LLC-ers are a quiet bunch that tends to stay to themselves, though this certainly is not the rule. The strict no drug/alcohol policy tends to put a damper on weekend activities, but can also serve as a source of relief to some. While not the most stimulating place, having lived there myself I can say it is a great, if not enjoyable, place to live, though when you tell people where you live, get used to a snide reply of, “How do you like it?”

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  1. JJer  

    bwog is aware that the photo above is john jay, right?

  2. LIEZ  

    Blatant JJ trolling. UNACCEPTABLE. I demand equal time from residents who actually LIVED in the other dorms!

  3. Baligrafo

    Furnald iz da best.

  4. pedant

    this entire post is a minty-fresh breach of bwog aesthetic.

  5. far  

    too light on cynicism. more negativity, bwog!

  6. Carman  

    kicks ASS. the floor dynamic is wicked tight and you get your own bathroom! john jay bathrooms are dirty! you get AC! you get a FREIGHT ELEVATOR! carman is great, both practically and socially.

    • Carman

      is also a place full of cokeheads, boozers and people who shit themselves. I mean, I guess those are good group activities that keep the floor united?

      • JJ Douchebags

        I guess you're another John Jay douchebag. And this article stinks of JJ bias. The best dynamic of all the first-year dorms? Yeah right. If your idea of a good first-year-experience is being an anti-social prick and engaging in compelling debates about the virtues of socialism, indie bands, and your own suffering, then John Jay is for you. If you want to have a good time and meet new people, live in Carman. The fact that this contributor would post the single worst anecdote to come out of Carman and dismiss all of the Jay's negativity as the exception should tell you that this post is skewed. The floor camaraderie he talks about is the exception in the Jay and the rule in Carman.
        That is all.

  7. freshmen

    please stop having a pissing contest about dorms, there is a cool city out there...go outside and enjoy it

  8. i differ  

    actual best carman story:

    guy on my floor has his friend over for a visit. guy on my floor goes to sleep. at seven am or so his visiting friend starts having anal sex with resident's girlfriend in the hallway. local resident comes out, sees occurrence, returns with bb gun and opens fire. the two naked parties flee towards the elevator past asian christian parents.

    suck on that, bwog.

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