The 2008 Housing Lottery: Your Best Mistake Ever!

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Break is drawing to a close, and the housing lottery is fast approaching. Use your last weekday off to acquaint yourself with the next dorm in our 2008 housing series: Nussbaum.

You could do a whole lot worse than 600 W. 113th Street, a.k.a. Nussbaum. To begin, Nussbaum’s in a great location – equidistant from two subway stops and close to what passes as Morningside haute cuisine (Milano Market is across the street, Community Food and Juice is down the block, Roti Roll is a hop, skip, and a jump away). Nussbaum is also a lot closer to campus than it seems to be, although if you have an early morning class in Pupin or Fayerweather, you’ll probably have to allow yourself more than five minutes to get there.

Columbia students inhabit only half of Nussbaum, which means that you’re bound to bump into unfriendly, older residents and their tiny dogs every now and then. However, Nussbaum’s borderline status as a Columbia dorm also leads to a few major pluses. Most of the security guards in this building are familiar enough with residents that they’ll allow Nussbaum denizens to walk past the front desk without swiping in. They’re also pretty lax about signing in visitors.

Members of the building’s maintenance staff are incredibly helpful and quick to address concerns. If you have roaches or the mirror on your wardrobe isn’t hung correctly, you can just run downstairs and notify someone instead of going through the red tape of submitting a maintenance request through the housing website. The paucity of students in Nussbaum means that each R.A. is responsible for two floors, so it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be caught drinking if you’re underage.

While most singles and doubles are spacious and airy, it’s possible to get stuck in a room that faces the shaft and is small enough to necessitate bunk beds. I live in one of those rooms (note our breathtaking view), although, to be fair, the fact that my roommate and I have our own bathroom partially makes up for being cramped.  Then again, we also have to clean the bathroom ourselves and buy our own toilet paper, so it all evens out.

Suites here are really just individual rooms that share a kitchen (with two fridges – another plus) and are connected by a long hallway. As a result, Nussbaum doesn’t easily facilitate mass socializing. Every suite has a common room, but they tend to be unwelcoming and creepy – ours contains only two chairs and a TV that flickers like the videotape in The Ring. The washing machines don’t take quarters – in order to do laundry, you have to put money on a special card that your R.A. will hand out at the beginning of the year using a machine that only takes fives, tens, or twenties. For some reason, LaundryView doesn’t show which Nussbaum washers and dryers are in use; it can be pretty frustrating to get all the way to the basement before you find out that there aren’t any open machines.

Then there’s the ancient, stoop-shouldered man who sporadically shuffles into the lobby, sits on the arm of one of the couches, and stares for hours at the mailboxes that line the opposite wall. It wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t smell so strongly of urine that the odor permeates the entire ground floor and remains even after he’s left. I guess this is the price you pay for a clean, conveniently placed dorm that straddles the line between on and off campus living.

– Hillary Busis. Photos by Alex Symonds.

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  1. SRB  

    Hillary, stop buying your own toilet paper. I, too, have my own bathroom in Nussbaum, and I just steal all the TP I need from the hall bathroom.

    also, my "suite" does not have a common room other than the kitchen.

  2. Alex S

    I saw the old pajama-pant guy OPENING a mailbox last week! With a key! Maybe he actually does live in the building?

    • nussbaum res  

      Old pajama-pant-guy, or, as we prefer to call him, Piss-Man, does indeed live in the building. He's sort of a neighborhood fixture. He can usually be found in the Nussbaum lobby between 11:30
      PM and 1 AM either opening a mailbox, muttering Jesus-talk to himself, or sketching creepy pictures of women's faces. All of these activities are of course accompanied by the lovely odor so tastefully described above.

      Nussbaum is a great place to live but there are definitely some characters that come with living in a building with statutory tenants. While I was waiting for the elevator, this guy once stared at me and asked "Are you OK?" When I replied "Yeah, I'm fine, why, do I look not OK?" he stared me right in the eye and said "You look like you a regular member of the Ku Klux Klan, boy." Since my Klan hood and sheet were in the dryer that day and he had never seen me before, I can only assume he made this judgement based on the color of my skin. Jerome and the other security guards apparently have trouble with him regularly: he lives on 11. He sort of stalked off leaving me confused and mildly indignant but I'm sure I'm not the only student/Nussbaum resident who's had issues with him. Then there's walking-tiny-dogs-at-2-AM-guy, the troupe of South Asian men who come in five times a day to pray, and a whole host of other people I probably never see because they keep hours different from mine. It's fun--and much more of a genuine New York experience than, say, McBain, even if you don't feel as connected to the Columbia community.

  3. Who

    uses the word equidistant?

  4. oioioi  

    hey dont forget someone committed suicide there last year and it was only discovered when the odor of decomposition permeated the building!

  5. alum

    and why is it a good thing that security doesn't do it's job?

  6. frequent visitor

    the best part of the building is definitely jerome.

  7. YES  

    I lived in Nussbaum over the summer and once had the rare privilege of riding in an ELEVATOR with "the ancient, stoop-shouldered man". I literally almost blew chunks everywhere, he reeked so bad.

  8. someone

    should call social services to check up on that old man....

  9. alum

    I loved living in Nussbaum other than that the room across from me had mouse problems and one eventually trickled into my room (however, it was caught by maintenance within the day!) The high ceilings + hardwood floors = awesome, the furniture is newer than elsewhere (at least on 10), and the 2 fridges are a big asset. The common room was used quite regularly, but b/c it was key-locked, sometimes became a random hookup room :(. Jerome is great, and the tenants are "colorful." When I was there there was allegedly a prostitute and a drug dealer... and some random dude who would deliver about 30 records every few weeks.

  10. Nussbaum  

    Was awful. It was a nightmare. Do not live there. THings break all the time, the kitchens are in terrible shape by the end of the year, the rooms are funnily shaped, and you can't call HAPPY when you need help.

  11. sdhsdhdshshs  

    I'm so sick of hearing about a "genuine new york experience." thats just people living here without some expectations about some fucking disneyland experience like they see on TV, you fucking moron. # 9 please go home to your lilly white parents in Connecticut.

  12. Nussbaumer

    I live in Nussbaum because I received a horrible lottery number, and I feel that the dorm is highly underrated. The doubles are okay-sized, the singles are huge (I know of a couple that are 170 sq ft or so), and the C suites get big kitchens. I don't know of any "oddly shaped" room is pretty square. Also, even if you don't get a private bathroom in your room, there are several regular single bathrooms in each suite, so the bathroom ratio is 4:1 or better. These bathrooms are cleaned semi-regularly (depending on the mood of the cleaning lady).

    Some negatives:
    Suitemates. You don't get to pick them, and sometimes you get a few nasty/dirty/toolish/use-your-food-without-asking ones. For the most part though, they're okay. It's not a very social dorm, so unless you plan to cook all of your meals, you can get away with avoiding most of your suitemates if you want.

    No air conditioning. Exposed radiators, and heat is hard to control.

    Laundry situation sucks because the basement looks the set of a horror film, you can't use Flex to do your laundry, and there have been spottings of rats (but I think maintenance took care of that).

    Nussbaum and Wu Bakery. The presence of the bakery below my dorm has not negatively affected the quality of living in Nussbaum for me. I was just really disappointed by it, because I had been looking forward to the convenience of living above a bakery only to find that it was overpriced and the food/coffee was subpar (IMO).

    The antisocial-ness of the dorm is a blessing and a curse. Studying in your room is totally doable, which is nice because Butler is kind of far away and the other libraries are even farther. The suites are not designed for throwing paries (alla Ruggles), but if you want to a social atmosphere, McBain is right across the street.

  13. mabye just me...

    but i'd rather be close to one subway stop than smack in the middle between two.

  14. GS resident

    You people get common rooms? Shit. We don't even get a dining table; we have to eat at our desks.

    Also, that rank old guy has to be OCD; every night at 12:30 he puts his hand in his mailbox and reams it back and forth for about five minutes. Then he sits down and crosses himself and mutters for another five. And then he stinks up the elevator something fierce.

    I think I've run into that "Klan" guy. He's a dickhead.

    • yeah  

      i lived on a GS floor over the summer (through a sublet) and it was way shittier than the floors offered for summer housing through columbia. the floors for undergrads are wayyy nicer, unfortunately.

  15. hm...

    why unfortunately?

  16. number nine  

    You know what I'm sick of? I'm sick of people whining about how they're more authentically New York than me and trying to wave their city-dick in my face. McBain is a sophomore dorm for the most part and is very much a CU experience. Nussbaum is a wide mix and contains many people who are not Columbia students. I don't know why my saying this pissed you off so much, but I would suggest you reach into your skirt and untwist your panties. If you still really have a problem with my innocuous statement you are more than welcome to get down on your holier-than-thou hipster knees and suck my dick. I promise you, it'll make everything crystal clear.

  17. 1152  

    I'm a soon to be soph and my lottery # is 1152 what are the odds of getting a walk through double?

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