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Freshpeople Housing Review: Hartley/Wallach

This is it, pre-frosh, the last housing review, just in time for your May 1st decision! Learn about Hartley and Wallach, the two dorms which together comprise the Living Learning Center (LLC). Combined with Carman, John Jay, and Furnald, it completes your housing options!

Ask questions in the comments! Freak out more!

Hartley and Wallach are, arguably, the most “unique” dorm options for freshmen. Instead of the purely firstmen halls Carman or John Jay, or the mostly-first-year Furnald, the LLC houses residents of all ages. Moreover, instead of discrete singles, doubles, or Carman-style suites, the LLC is comprised of large suites of 11 or so residents, all of which connect to one large central lounge/kitchen. It’s a common joke/Columbia aphorism that, “If you date a person in the LLC, you date the entire suite.” The idea is that you’ll always see everybody on your way in and out. And you’ll know they’re judging you.

According to Student Affairs:

[T]his unique living arrangement can ease your transition to college and provide guidance regarding community, involvement in life at Columbia, class selection, exam preparation, and room selection. Close-knit relationships between first-years, sophomore, juniors, seniors, alumni, faculty, administrators, and visiting guests are the hallmark foundation of the LLC.

To avoid the Furnald sophomore reputation for being disinterested in their first-year floormates, LLC upperclassmen have to apply to get in, the idea being that they want to mentor some youths, not just snag an elusive sophomore single. But, like all things human, suites are inconsistent. Some are tight families, leading the first-years to reapply as sophomores; others are rather cold and do house sophomores feigning interest in LLC programming for better housing.

Just the Facts:

  • Nearby places: The LLC is adjacent to Hamilton, close to Butler, and opposite Furnald and Lerner. It’s close to Amsterdam things.
  • Bathrooms: Each suite has a unisex bathroom.
  • AC/Heating: No.
  • Kitchen/Lounge: Each suite has a large common area with a full kitchen, TV, tables, couches, and chairs!
  • Laundry: In the basement of Hartley there are 8 washer and ten dryers. John Jay’s machines are also accessible without going outside.
  • Computers/Printers: There’s a lab in Hartley with nine computers and two large NINJa printers.
  • Intra-transportation: Two elevators, one for each tower.
  • Wi-Fi: No.

Resident Opinions:

  • “With the LLC you either love it or you hate it. If you can get along with the people in your suite and your upperclassmen actually care about interacting with you (note, this is very rare as most upperclassmen only live here to escape bad housing their sophomore or junior year) then it can be awesome. If this is not the case, you will be left alone in your suite with no friends.”
  • “The bathrooms are really nice, the showers are super powerful and they never get as dirty as John Jay or as disgusting as Carmen.”
  • “It’s really great to have a kitchen although you have to make sure to clean it which is harder than it looks since there is no accountability for dirty dishes left in the sink and no one will wash your dishes for you.”
  • “I live in a single in Hartley this year and completely love it. The LLC is a great way to snag the privacy of a single (granted, there are doubles, too) while having the social experience of a suite. That said, the enjoyment of suite-style living ultimately comes down to how well you mesh with your suitemates. My suite is extremely active and outgoing, but I know of many LLC-ers who mostly socialize outside their suite and floor. If you’re looking for an unconventional freshman living setting and easy access to a nice kitchen and lounge, the LLC is the way to go.”
  • “My favorite part of the LLC is that it’s the only place on campus where freshmen live with upperclassmen. The sophomores in my suite already knew how Columbia life works, and were able to guide me. There’s also a degree of community that you get in the LLC that I don’t think you find elsewhere, but that part of it is hit-or-miss.”

Photos by Elyse DeWitt and Alex Jones

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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I don’t know why the LLC has such a bad rep. The freshman I know who live there really like it but people in other dorms think it sucks. . . I’ve been too a few suites and they seem nice and the people are friendly. I would honestly say Furnald seems more antisocial then the LLC.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous BWOG! What about the great lounge on the 1st floor. And the sky lounge!!!

  • CC12 says:

    @CC12 I LOVED living in Wallach as a freshman. I had the best suite and I still see my suitemates regularly. Literally, my suite was a little family and VERY social. There were always games, pranks, and parties happening in our suite. Its true that the suite is not all freshman, but in my suite the upperclassman really wanted to help us out. My suite had 6 freshman. Plus, each of us made friends in different dorms and when they brought them to the suite we all met them (suites can literally be like a little family).

    Also, in Hartley there is a pool table and ping pong table. Plus eat suite as a tv. In my suite Monday was a major chick gathering of Gossip Girl (with girls from all dorms not just the ones in my suite) and Sunday was the boy’s football nonsense :P

    I did not live in the LLC sophomore year, but I really really loved it as a freshman.

    HOWEVER, the suites can be a hit or miss. My was a GREAT hit.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I lived on Wallach 3 as a freshman and we never had mice or bugs. Just be clean!!! And I loved my suite.

  • Wallach says:

    @Wallach Lived in Wallach Freshman year. Twas an awful experience. Only two other Freshman in my suite (that’s standard now) and they were both like the quietest most uninteresting people ever. It has advantages over Carman in that it’s not so ugly and the people are more studious but there’s absolutely no advantage of Wallach over John Jay unless you’re addicted to cooking.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous If you are an engineer, though, definitely apply for the Gateway Residential Initiative (GRI) in either Hartley or Wallach. It is a wonderful experience and there is usually one *lucky* upperclassman CC kid on hall who gives good laughs. There are whiteboards in each suite of the GRI and lots of cool amenities like being on a first name basis with Dean Peña-Mora (what a cutie) and other administrators in academic departments and housing. You actually get to meet Jack McGourty, you get free stuff, especially yummy food. The RAs for the GRI seem to be very chill and funny. (Hmmm, now I’m wondering if they’ll keep the G in GRI… it was created mostly to help with collaboration for the first-year design course. omgoodness, what a situation). Anyway, I think the LLC style of living will mostly benefit engineering kids since we are all in similar class and the upperclassmen can help with course material, class selection and summer options. If you are an awkward nerd, this will definitely help you get out of your bubble and talk with people who have similar interests (yay, do psets on the whiteboard and play copious amounts of video games). The resident dynamic on the GRI is one of the best!

    TL;DR?: SEAS2015ers, choose the GRI in the LLC :)

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I’m gonna be honest and say that sounds absolutely horrifying.

      I don’t think that should be an unequivocal suggestion, sounds like it would be better for some and worse for others, even in seas…

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Hartley/Wallach is honestly a crapshoot. It’s worth mentioning that it’s by far the best options for students who like to cook (I ended up cooking in my friends suite… and basically living on their couch). If you get a good group, your whole suite can be bffs. If you don’t luck out, though, it can be an anti-social morbid morbidness of morbidity. I’ve never lived in Hartley, but like I said, I basically lived on a couch in a Hartley lounge (Hartley 2A represent!), and I’ve definitely seen how much fun an LLC suite can be, with freshman and sophomores building close friendships which really do help you out (also, if you’re friends with people older than you, you can sometimes get pulled into Claremont or Ruggles suites. Score.) But I’ve also heard horror stories. The deal with JJ/Carman is that there’s like four times as many people, and eight times as many freshmen (who are much more in the active MUST MAKE FRIENDS mode than Sophomores tend to be) on each floor. So you’re much more likely to find people that you like. I’d say if you are in a suite with people you’re friends with, Hartley/Wallach is the best possible option, especially if you are at all accustomed to cooking for yourself. But the odds of your suite clicking like that are fairly small, so it may not be the best decision.

    That said, of all the people I’ve known personally who live/have lived in the LLC, none of them have been anti-social or unfriendly in the slightest. On the other hand, I know them personally, so I suppose that the odds of being friends with a friendly person is higher than being friends with an unfriendly person, right?

  • CC '14 says:

    @CC '14 FRESHMEN, DO NOT LIVE IN THE LLC. IF YOU ARE PUT THERE, TRANSFER IMMEDIATELY TO JOHN JAY OR CARMAN. IF YOU CAN’T TRANSFER THERE, AT LEAST TRANSFER TO HARTLEY, BECAUSE WALLACH SUCKS MORE. Honestly though, while my experience in Hartley has been relatively enjoyable (but by no means satisfying), and I have become friends with the sophomores in my suite, you will be missing out enormously on the “freshman experience” of living on a floor with other noobs. IF, however, you could care less about a “typical freshman dorm”, and desperately want a kitchen/suite lounge, then you might consider living… Nah, just don’t. The LLC could easily be a miserable experience and many people I know here have absolutely hated it. You’re less likely to run into such an extreme living in JJ or Carman where you can get to know more people. Also, some of my friends live in suites with ALL Sophomores, which is pretty unfortunate.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I bet you are just antisocial and would have been miserable anywhere. The LLC is great.

  • CC'13 says:

    @CC'13 LLC- FANTASTIC place to live as a sophomore, by far better than all the other options.
    As a freshman? Go for John Jay, it’s the happy medium between sociability, meeting people, and not having schwasted people constantly vomiting in your bathroom. I live in the LLC now, and out of the 11 people in our suite, 10 of them ended up being sophomores. Luckily, the freshman in our suite found a good group of friends somewhere else to hang out with quite a bit, but if I had been in his situation my freshman year I would have been kind of miserable.

    Echoing the sentiment that clubs and social events are really where you make friends, though. I was very friendly with everyone on my 50 person JJ floor last year, but now I really only see two of them on a regular basis–my best friends are from the rest of my college life.

  • CC'14 says:

    @CC'14 Just a tip for 2015ers… I’m currently living in Carman. I have no really close friends on my floor, but I do have a solid circle of great friends who mostly live on other floors in Carman or in Furnald. People like to say that your social circle in college depends solely on where you live freshman year, and I’m sure that’s true for some people, but its not at all true for me and lots of others. So don’t assume you’ll never be able to make friends if you don’t like the people in your LLC suite (or your floor in Carman/Furnald/John Jay for that matter).

    p.s. I will be living in the LLC next year. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t pick it mostly for the single, but I would be happy to make friends with and help out any of my suitemates next year, freshman or otherwise.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous You forgot the sky lounge in Wallach and Hartley with internet!

    Plus if you are worried about not making friends with the people in your suite, you also have the people in the suites on your same floor. I’m not really friends with anyone in my suite but I absolutely love the LLC and have made some of my closest friendships in the adjacent suites.

    Also the hospitality desk for the entire campus being in Hartley is somewhat convenient. And not having to walk outside when it’s cold to go to the John Jay dining hall is a plus.

    The LLC gives you all the advantages of privacy when you need it and what almost feels like a family right outside your doors if you don’t. In my opinion, it can’t be beat.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous “others are rather cold and do house sophomores feigning interest in LLC programming for better housing”


  • uh, bwog says:

    @uh, bwog There’s also an amazing sky lounge in Wallach with great lighting and lots of tables and couches which is a great place to work. Its also the only freshman dorm with such a sky lounge.

    1. Agreed. says:

      @Agreed. How can you miss the sky lounge, Bwog?

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous hartley has one too

    3. Also says:

      @Also the LLC def. has heating. Come on, Bwog, it isn’t the Gulag.

  • CC2015 says:

    @CC2015 Is the LLC so bad? Seems like the only people who like it live there

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I would not recommend the LLC. there is a very real chance that you will live in a social dead end and not like the people in your suite, especially since there are only 15 people per suite. if i could do it over again i would go to john jay or carman, where there are many, many freshmen on your floor, none of whom have friends and for the most part will be friendly. the LLC would be great if you were living with close friends, but since you won’t be as a freshman, there is no need to risk it.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous I lived in the LLC freshman year and my suite was amazing. We were a tight family freshman year and even now I am still friends with the people I lived with. It was great having upperclassmen that could help you adjust to Columbia. Plus, you can decorate the suite and have great parties in your own lounge.

      2. CC13 says:

        @CC13 I don’t know why the LLC has such a bad rep. The freshman I know who live there really like it but people in other dorms think it sucks. . . I’ve been too a few suites and they seem nice and the people are friendly. I would honestly say Furnald seems more antisocial then the LLC.

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous also, something bwog forgot to mention: the LLC has serious, SERIOUS pest problems, or at least on the lower floors. you must expect to see roaches and mice scurrying about if you plan to live here and this problem is only intensified if your suite does not keep its kitchen clean.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Sounds like you had a bad suite/experience. As in every resident hall, there are success stories and failure stories – personally the LLC has been an amazing experience for me, not just as a building but with the people and good times experienced in it! If I had to do freshmen year over again, I wouldn’t decide any other way.

      2. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Also, even with our floors messy residents, we had maybe a total of 2-3 cockroach/mice sightings the entire year. Clean up your shit and they’ll stay away. Simple as that!

      3. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Live on Wallach 3. Never seen a pest in the suite.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous i lived there last yr and i can tell you that was not the case. you could hear the mice in the walls and ceilings. there was even a dead rat in the bathroom

    3. CC'13 says:

      @CC'13 I would echo the sentiments above. Hartley/Wallach is great for sophomores but bad for freshmen. Much better to live in Carman/John Jay/Furnald where you’ll be better able to build your social network. I’m not saying you’ll have no friends though if you end up there, but my suite is 6 sophomores and 5 freshmen. You do the math. I’m friends with some of the freshmen in my suite but personally, I would have had no friends if I had lived there freshman year.

      1. CC12 says:

        @CC12 I LOVED living in Wallach as a freshman. My suite was great and I am still really tight with them. I left the LLC after freshman year, but if I could do it over I would def live in the LLC as a freshman

    4. CC14 says:

      @CC14 live in the LLC and hate it. just a heads up. If you care about your social experience at columbia (whether you’re a social butterfly or not), consider other dorms.

    5. CC '14 says:

      @CC '14 I live in the LLC and I love it! I live in Hartley (it was my single you saw if you’ve toured the dorms). Our suite is made up of 5 sophmores and the rest freshman. We wound up being really close this semester but even when we weren’t you can go out have a good time with your real friends (who you will likely meet doing clubs) then come back and everyone sits around the common room and talks about their night.

      If you’re lucky, which, granted, is a risk, living in the LLC is like living in a big apartment with great roommates.

      As for the pest problem, it’s really only the third floor and below and but there the rooms/kitchens are bigger so there’s enough room for you and your gentle mouse friends.

      Don’t be put off by this review. The sophmores who live in the LLC do want to be there. (I’ll be one of them next year, 130 sqft single, holla!) Also, you don’t actually have to go to any of the doofy events but some of them are really cool. I went to an alumni dinner in the Dean in Residence’s apartment (the 9th floor) and it was intimate and delicious and definitely a perk.

      tl;dr- Make friends in clubs, they last longer. Sophmores rock. Suite style=an apartment.

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