Don’t Go In There… A Guide to Academic Buildings On Campus

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Palak Patel ’16 is the Design Editor. Palak is an English Major.

Ah, the beginning of a new academic year. It’s a very exciting time for many of us, especially the new freshman. Welcome to your Private, Coeducational Liberal Arts College Experience at Your Residential College Located in the Heart of the Hudson Valley! Home of the Highly Elusive Womp-Womp!  My name is Palak, and I will be your (unwanted) tour guide of the academic buildings on campus. Please keep your arms and legs on the tour at all times. Pictures are allowed, but no flash, sorry.

If you look to your maps, you can find the Sanders Classroom Building located to the right of Main Building in the science quad. This is where the English, Greek and Roman Studies, Chinese, Japanese, and Asian Studies programs are housed. There is also an auditorium in here where you will probably witness many comedy shows if you are cool enough and know the right people. I’m the right people, so start sucking up now. I like books, baked goods, and Amazon gift cards.

Next to Sanders Classroom is the confusingly named Sanders Physics. If you haven’t guessed already, it normally houses the Physics and Astronomy departments as well as the Science, Technology, and Society program. Like a number of other buildings, it’s closed next year. All of these buildings will be crammed into the second floor of a tiny building called “Old Laundry Building;” yup, we still use that name. It also housed lots of expensive technology that you can play with if you know the right people. Sorry, here I am not the right people, but you might be able to sneak in during the changing of the guard.

Across from Sanders Physics is the Seely G. Mudd Chemistry Building. Okay, Mudd Chemistry is cool both on the outside and the inside. The outside look vaguely futuristic because of the glass wall things and the inside has more really cool science stuff like a liquid chromatography electrospray ionization quadrupole time of flight mass spectrometer. Do I know what this does? No, but I sounded super smart there for a second. I do know that they have been known to make ice cream with liquid nitrogen on Fridays.

Beside Mudd Chemistry is New England Building. I’ve been told a bunch of times that a piece of the Plymouth Rock is actually above the entrance of New England, but I have never noticed it before. Pay attention, kiddos, history is everywhere. Anyway, New England used to be the home to the multidisciplinary programs which are all the Studies that I haven’t mentioned already. With construction, the small yet mighty crew will scatter across campus for the year. Almost all will be housed on the third of our beautifully named Old Laundry Building. All of you will come here when you take Women’s Studies. You will take Women’s Studies, it’s basically a requirement.

Beyond New England is Olmsted. Olmsted is home to the Biology Department. It also has a staircase tunnel thing that will lead to you Skinner and the way to Shipping and Receiving. Because Olmsted is a science building, it probably has fancy and expensive equipment in it. But beside it is the Shakespeare Garden, and that’s just pretty.

Follow the path I mentioned above and you get to the Belle Skinner Hall of Music. It essentially looks like a castle and houses 65 pianos. I hope some of you know how to play piano. Piano music is the only thing that keeps the ghost of Belle Skinner happy. Fun Fact: the Bloody Mary legend is based on Belle Skinner. When in Skinner Hall, try not to mention children.

At Swift Hall, you can take the secret underground tunnel to the other side of campus and come out at Cushing. From Cushing you can walk to the other castle-like building: Blodgett Hall. Blodgett is home to the Anthropology, Psychology, Economics, Sociology, and Religion Departments. Blodgett may be the most confusing building on campus because of it’s lack of order or reason in how it is set up. Many upperclassmen still get lost in there. It’s also the best place for a good game of hide-and-go-seek!! But don’t go in the basement. Never go in the basement. Ignore the screams.

Across the street from Blodgett is Kenyon Hall. Kenyon is nice because it has pretty good air conditioning in their classrooms, which we are told is “state-of-the-art” and “smart.” The Dance Department is located in Kenyon and it is also the home of Vassar’s volleyball and squash teams.“We have a squash team?” you may ask. I guess we do, kids, I guess we do.  As you can see, Vassar likes to mix a little bit of academics into every aspect of your new college life, it’s how we maintain our motto of “Purity and Wisdom.” I would exercise your brain a bit before going out, because sometimes  you need to answer a question or riddle get into places a la Hufflepuff.

From here we have to walk all the way back to the residential quad. Fun Fact: Pretty much everything on campus is 7 minutes away from Strong House. Time your mornings accordingly. At the “top” of the quad is Rockefeller Hall. Rocky, as the cool kids call it, is the home of the Math, Philosophy, and Political Science Departments. You can really take any class there, though, because it is still a “general academic” building. The stairs are mighty steep and I’ve heard the fourth floor is “trippy.” Check it out, if you dare. But don’t let any students hear you call it Rockefeller. Only Admissions, prospective students, and total squares use its full name. Since, congrats, you are none of the above (I hope), behave accordingly.

Finally, Chicago Hall. Lovingly called The Lasagna Building by about 5 people on campus, this is the home of the languages: French, Hispanic Studies, Italian, German, and the Foreign Language Resource Center. The building looks small, but like the TARDIS, it’s bigger on the inside.

Those are pretty much the most important academic buildings on campus. Anything else, you’re on your own. You’re all adults now, so figure it out. And don’t forget, Vassar is an old school. There are ghosts in pretty much every building. Don’t go anywhere by yourself.  Constant vigilance, dear freshman. Constant vigilance.

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