SPEAKER 1: The Office of New Student Programs welcomes you to the Cornell Family Orientation Video Information Series. We've created this video series to provide information and connect you to the services, programming, and support available to Cornell students. In each installment, we will introduce you to the Cornell University staff and administrators who work closely with students. You will also hear student voices that will give you a closer look at the Cornell student experience.
At the conclusion of each video, you will find contact information so that you can follow up as needed. You are also welcome to reach out to the staff in new student programs. This video about the residential experience features staff from Housing and Residential Life and Cornell Dining. You will also see sample residents all rooms on North Campus and hear from students who are serving as resident advisors this year.
SPEAKER 2: Welcome to Cornell and our virtual tour of typical residence hall rooms on campus. Almost all students live on campus their first year. And housing is guaranteed to first-year students. All housing options for first-year students are on North Campus. Many students remain in on-campus housing after the first year, mostly in our West Campus houses or South Campus residence halls.
First, we'll take a look at a typical single-style room. No matter the building, each student has a bed with an extra-long twin mattress, a desk and desk chair, a desk lamp, wastebasket, a dresser, and closet or a wardrobe space. In some rooms, you can have your bed elevated or bunked. There's fast Wi-Fi in all rooms and common areas.
Cornell's rich history and varied architecture makes each living space a little different. While you can't choose a specific building unless you're applying to live in a program house, you can request a single, double, triple, or quad, or a townhouse apartment. About 25% of first-year students live in program houses, Cornell's themed communities based on shared interests or identities.
Now we can see a typical double-style room. Different buildings have different configurations, which may be organized into units or suites, with each sharing some amenities, like bathrooms, lounges, study rooms, and kitchens. Our North Campus residence halls are convenient to three of our ten all-you-care-to-eat dining rooms, a full-service cafe, a grill and convenience store, and many recreational spaces and support services.
North Campus is in easy walking distance of most academic buildings where you'll have classes. And the TCAT bus system, which is free for first-year students, has several bus stops on North Campus. It's easy to get around campus and the Ithaca area by walking, biking, rideshare, or taking the bus. So most students don't bring cars to campus.
Your student ID is your key to your building. And each room has a unique physical key. Living on North Campus, you'll meet people and make friends. And they'll be students from all of Cornell's colleges and majors. You'll be living with people from a variety of majors with a diversity of interests and hobbies.
A network of staff members, upper level student RAs, and faculty members provide a built-in support system throughout the living-learning experience in our residence halls. Our Faculty in Residence and Faculty Fellows programs are among the opportunities for engagement with our faculty members.
The rooms we've been showing you have been styled by our friends at the Cornell Store. And all of the decor and accessories are available to purchase. Be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
And find lots of details at housing.cornell.edu. If you have any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Give us a call at 607-255-5368 or send us a DM. And welcome to Cornell.
TIMOTHY BLAIR: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Tim Blair. I'm the executive director of housing and residential life. And on behalf of the HRL team, I really want to welcome our parents and family members to the Cornell community.
Overall, our goal is to really make Cornell your student's home away from home with that. The residence hall is much more than just a place to sleep. It really is a place to learn, to interact with others, to explore new ideas, and really make the most of what Cornell has to offer with that.
And, like I said, I'm really-- I'm not alone in this effort. The Housing and Residence Life Department is made up of close to 200 professionals and student staff members who are committed to supporting the students that live on campus and providing the resources that our students need to really be successful here at Cornell with that. So I'd like to just do a general overview of the various aspects of the team so that you can understand a little bit better that if you have a question or a concern, you know how to direct some of those-- how to get the answer that you need.
The first aspect of my team is the housing team. These are the folks that are behind the scenes, making the assignments and keeping track of where our over 6,500 students live on campus with that. They're the ones that keep our system up to date, communicate with our students about important dates and information, such as move out, move in, how to do a room change if that is something that's desired, et cetera. So they're kind of behind the scenes, but they're a really important part of the services that we provide.
The second part of my team that you may not experience as a parent or a family member of a first-year student but might run into this a little bit later in your student's career here at Cornell is our Graduate Cooperative and Off-Campus Living Team. And this is a group that really works with our graduate housing on campus, so graduate students that live with us and their families. Our co-ops, which are independent living communities within Cornell, and I encourage you to have your student watch for more information about co-op living that might-- will be coming out a little bit later in the fall semester and finding out a little bit more about how that might fit into their career here at Cornell. And our Off-Campus Living Office, that really helps our students that are transitioning from living on campus to living off campus and helping them navigate that process with it. So like I said, it might not be something that your students deal with in their first year here, but definitely something that your students might be needing in the future.
And then there's the Residence Life Leadership Team. This is the group that's creating the residential experience here at Cornell and providing the guidance to two really important teams that are probably the most important teams that I can share with you. The first one is our residence life director, our hall director, and Area Coordinator Team.
These are our professional staff members who live in our buildings. So they are actually members of our residential communities with that. And they're responsible for really overseeing the day-to-day activities and operations of each of our communities with that.
The second group, and probably the most important group that I can share with you today, is our resident advisors. These are our student leaders who are peers, trained in a variety of topics. So whether it's academic, social, or personal, these folks have the answers, or at least know how to get the answers that your son or daughter might need.
And these are really the first people that your son or daughter should reach out to when they have a concern or a question or just need to talk with that. In fact, we're all here. The entire team is here to help you. But my tip to parents and family members is that if your son or daughter calls you with a concern or question or an issue, I would encourage you to say the first thing is have you talked with your RA? So I would encourage you to remember that, because it really is-- that staff is the gateway for your son or daughter to be successful here at Cornell with that.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the reality of the impact of COVID-19 and that-- and the pandemic that we are currently living with. Like all aspects of life right now, the student experience at Cornell will be very different in the fall. And for someone who has been in higher education and in student affairs for a number of years, that's a bit sad, because there's so much about the residential experience at colleges and universities that really enhance the life for our students.
And things are going to be a little bit different. But we are trying to do all that we can to create as much of a normal first-year student experience as possible. But safety is our top priority. By now, you should know that we're working on ways of changing our classes, of how the classes are taught, how buildings are being de-densified, how campus programs and activities are being delivered, and how we plan to regularly test our students and the rest of the Cornell community to minimize risk.
But I want to make sure that everyone understands that there is really no zero-risk scenario. And we're placing a huge responsibility on all of our students, particularly those that are living in the residence halls, to ensure that we can come together as a Cornell community to learn, laugh, make friends, and grow while still being safe and healthy. So at this point, I'm going to turn it over to other members of my team to talk a little bit more details about what the upcoming fall might look like.
Again, please do not hesitate to call us or reach out to us at housing.Cornell.edu if you have any questions. And we look forward to seeing your son or daughter in the fall. So thank you.
QUINTENILLA MERRIWEATHER: Hello, students and families. My name is Quin Merriweather. And I am one of the resident hall directors at Cornell University as part of the Housing and Residential Life Team. I'm here to talk to you a little bit about two support agents that you have in your time here at Cornell-- the resident advisors and the resident hall directors and area coordinator.
Here at Cornell, we realize that in coming to college, you're stepping into a new experience and journey in your life. And with that, there's going to be some unease. Know that when you come to our campus, our resident advisors, which are our student leaders, are right there helping you move into your new room, making sure that you're connected with other people as part of the community, and getting involved to make the most out of your Cornell experience.
On top of the resident advisors who are there living on the floor within your building for constant support and guidance, you also have the resident hall directors and the area coordinator. These are the professional staff members who work interchangeably with the resident advisors to make sure that any concerns are met with proper solutions to guarantee a positive and continued stay at our university. So don't be nervous to talk with your RA. They're there to be a guiding force in your journey to help you make the most out of your Cornell experience.
And same with the RHDs and ACs. We're all here to make sure that your experience at Cornell is the best it can be.
SCOTT VOSS: Hello. My name is Scott Voss. I am one of the residence hall directors for the Townhouse Community. It's a first-year apartment-style community for students. I'm going to talk a little bit about what programming looks like in our residential communities. One of the things that I first want to say is that the safety and security and health of all of our students is our top priority.
And so with that, a lot of our programming is going to look different this year than it has in other years and that it will in the future. So a lot of what we're going to be doing is going to be virtual. And so we'll be planning different events that students can take part in over Zoom and different things that involve online opportunities for engaging with each other.
So we have resident advisors, residence hall directors, faculty in residence, and faculty fellows who work to plan these programs. And the programs really are-- they're the planned events that we use to help students get engaged with each other, help them learn about Cornell, and help them really discover and learn about themselves as well.
SAM BENSON: Hi, everyone. I'm Sam Benson. And I'm serving in my fifth year as the residence hall director for the Ecology House, which is a program house for 100 first years through seniors who are all interested in environmental justice. I love being an RHD in Eco, because one, I love the Earth. I think she's great. And two, being an RHD means that I get to celebrate with residents when they're experiencing really great things in their life and I get to support and guide the residents when they're experiencing much tougher things in their life, like mental health struggles, academic issues, friend group stress, and more.
A really important part of this year we'll be ensuring that every student can find community here at Cornell. First and foremost, we highly recommend that they connect with their RA and take advantage of any programming that those RAs are offering. All the RAs are upper-level Cornell students. So taking advantage of that programming and their familiarity with the campus will really help students get connected to other people much more quickly than them just trying to do it all on their own.
We really want students to think of the concept "you get out what you put in." If you commit energy to engaging with others in your hall via these RA programs, you're going to receive that same energy back from others as you develop new friendships and connections. Students can also explore our Campus Groups Platform, where they can find all kinds of online community portals for not only every single residential community, but also all kinds of clubs and organizations on campus. This is a great place to find groups of people who are already interested in the same thing as your student, so please encourage them to go check it out. Although many events that would have been in-person are now moving virtual, that doesn't mean that we still won't have a robust and diverse collection of opportunities that students can experience.
CLAIRION DUBOSE: Hello. My name is Clairion DuBose. I am a senior this year. I am in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This is my third year being an RA.
And I chose to be an RA because coming to Cornell, I had the privilege of knowing a couple people already on campus. And so I didn't really feel scared, because they were able to connect me to the resources and teach me how to go through the classes and things. And I realized that having somebody there to do that for me really helped me to be able to be comfortable on campus and to do the things that I needed to do to be able to succeed.
And so as my role is an RA, I try to do that and help students, connecting them with resources, finding out what they're interested in, and connecting them with people that I know that are in certain clubs, and to just help them feel comfortable here.
GABRIEL VERGARA: Hi, everyone. My name is Gabriel Vergara. And I am in the class of 2021. I am a member of the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in government. And I'm starting my second year as a resident advisor.
So I became an RA for one big reason, which it mentorship. I think coming into Cornell, I was very misguided and didn't have a lot of experience living by myself. And I didn't know what college would be like.
And having a figure there on my floor who was able to point me in the right directions of things, whether it was clubs, with academics, or just be able to handle any issues that I might have, that was such a valuable resource. And I decided I wanted to pay it forward, to mentor students and make sure that they eased into their transition into Cornell University. So that's the big reason why I became an RA.
CAYMAN PEARSALL: Hi, everyone. My name is Cayman Pearsall. I am a senior in the College of Human Ecology studying human development. And I have been an RA now for two years. And I will be an RA for the third year after this year is complete.
I really, really wanted to be an RA for many reasons. But the most important to me wishes I really care about the experiences of the students. And I wanted to help them become the best them they can be, whether that be giving them resources or helping create an inclusive community.
And this job allows for me to do what I do every day. It allows for me to be welcoming and happy and joyful, create programs for students. And it's something that I really love to do.
CLAIRION DUBOSE: So I would say RAs support students in a variety of ways. One of the biggest ways is just helping students navigate through the stresses of coming to Cornell. Everybody that's here was the top of their class. They're used to making straight A's, and always just knowing what to do and being confident.
And that's kind of tough coming to Cornell. Cornell is a very humbling place, because everyone that's here was the top of their class. And it's OK if you make a B, a D, a C. I think my very first exam, I made an F. And I went to one of my friends and I was like oh my goodness, oh my goodness. And he had taken the class previously. He's like it's OK, everybody fails the first test. You're going to do better next time. You'll know how to study better next time.
And just kind of being with residents and seeing how they might change from the very first day of coming in the campus and trying to help them get back on balance.
GABRIEL VERGARA: So as an RA, the primary way that I support students is when residents will come to me with a problem that they're having or something going on in their life and they'll tell me about it. And then as an RA, my job is really to listen to them, hear them out, and recommend them to resources if I can. So if a student is struggling academically and they have a big test coming up, I might recommend them to the Learning Strategy Center or another academic resource. So by facilitating the process and pushing them and guiding them in the right direction towards these resources, the hope is that these students will thrive at Cornell.
CAYMAN PEARSALL: One way that I really try to support my residents and also my other peer students as well is by really trying to create an inclusive community here on campus. I, myself, am a minority student. So I know what it feels like to be left out. And I would never want any of my residents to feel that way. So I really try my best to try and create a community where students feel enriched, students feel comfortable being themselves, students can just be whatever they want to be and whenever they want to be it. So that's one way that I try to really support and help my residents.
But another way that I find really important in our whole job is just to be a resource for them, whether that be them talking about their day, or them talking about anything that they want to come to us and talk to. And I think one really important thing that we're given the tools to do is also to outsource. So if we're not qualified to handle a situation, we know of resources to help them do so. So I think those are two main ways that I help support my residents.
CLAIRION DUBOSE: Right, so RA training is about 10 days long. And it's 9:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night. And we're talking with various campus partners, such as Cornell Health, the fire safety department, Cornell Police Department.
They teach us how to meditate, so we can teach that to students, and learning about different library resources. And they teach us how to sleep to help improve sleeping habits for students. And we also learn about other physical wellness things and a lot of the resources that campus partners offer, so that way we can refer students to them in time of need.
CAYMAN PEARSALL: Some of the major topics that I love to learn about every single time we train are the Tatkon Center. I think that that's really helpful for students, because the Tatkon Center is-- the main focus of that center is to-- is first-year students. So they do a lot of programs that help first-year students acclimate here at Cornell and acclimate to the different things that they're dealing with on campus.
Another topic that I really like to learn about is Cornell Minds Matter. And basically, what they do is they just help spread awareness for mental health resources on campus. And for a first-year student, sometimes things like that are a little bit hard to delve into. But they make it really, really easy for a student to get involved with that.
Another important thing to highlight about RA training is that we're not only training during the weeks that we're here that we come early before the students. We train throughout the semester. We get different in-hall trainings that we like to call them.
But basically, they're just sessions where professional staff can update us on what's going on, update us on what we should be doing and what we shouldn't be doing, things like that. So I think we're trained very, very well. And we do the best that we can so that we can support-- so that we can support incoming students.
CLAIRION DUBOSE: So at Cornell in the residence halls, we have a lot of different programs that students can be involved in. And we also-- the way that the residence life is set up is so that way, students have a lot of informal interactions with professors and faculty. So that way they feel comfortable interacting with their professors that they're in their classes with.
So one, we have faculty in residence, which is a faculty member that lives directly in the dorm. And here in CKB, last semester, the faculty fellow had a program a week. And the RAs were helping out with that. And there's mostly just study breaks with snacks and fun music and hanging out and things like that.
And there's also Faculty Fellows, which are people who are connected with the residence hall but aren't actually in the residence hall. And they usually do a program maybe once a month. So one thing I suggest for students to do when they get here is RAs are really good about publicizing the program. So if you see something, just join it and turn your screen on and have a good time.
GABRIEL VERGARA: So I think that the primary location where students in the past have made their most meaningful connections are in communal spaces, like study lounges and TV lounges. And these places really are open and allow students to interact with one another, whether that's just doing something as everyday as homework or watching TV or a movie. And, obviously, we live in very abnormal times, where we have social distancing. Everyone has to wear a mask.
And Cornell is doing the most that they can to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. So these communal spaces will be open. And they'll have some restrictions. So masks will have to be worn and residents will have to stay six feet apart to comply with CDC guidelines.
But I think that these are the sites where residents are going to be able to interact with one another-- with one another and really get to form valuable friendships, because these are the places where you can talk about things like everyday Cornell life, your past experience, your future plans. And it's just really one of the integral parts of the residential experience, just being able to share and communicate with others who might have different backgrounds and even different experiences.
CAYMAN PEARSALL: Here at Cornell, us RAs really take the residential experience very seriously. The professional staff and my other peer RAs who are working really, really, really try hard to create an engaging environment. And by engaging environment, I mean that we're still going to be programming. The students are still going to be in contact with us and their other peers that are also doing this first-year process together.
And then also, RAs are going to try and hold as many in-person programs as we can, just making sure to follow the proper safety protocols. So if anything, don't be worried that you're not going to connect with someone, because it's our job to help you connect with someone.
STEPHANIE ELLIS: Welcome to Cornell Dining.
MATT SEEBER: Welcome to Cornell Dining.
LORNA BRADSHAW: Welcome to Cornell Dining.
ANNA BEN-SHLOMO: [NON-ENGLISH] Cornell Dining.
LETTY ANDRADE: [NON-ENGLISH] Cornell Dining.
CHLOE GREENHALGH: Welcome to Cornell Dining.
MENG-WEI HSU: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]
BRANDON FORTENBERRY: Welcome to Cornell Dining. Welcome
AMY VLEMINCKX: To Cornell Dining.
MICHELLE NARDI: Welcome to Cornell Dining.
DEBO ADEBOLA: Welcome by Cornell Dining. [NON-ENGLISH] Cornell Dining.
DUSTIN CUTLER: Welcome. My name is Dustin Cutler. And I am the executive director at Cornell Dining. My team and I are proud to operate a world-class dining program within Student and Campus Life. I want to let you know that we are here to help you and your student navigate through the dining experiences on campus.
We are taking a number of safety precautions in our units and have been working nonstop to provide you with an experience that is safe, nutritious, and efficient. Today, you will meet some of the amazing members of my team who have been making this happen. Please know we are all available to you if you have any questions throughout the semester. And I hope you feel at home here at Cornell.
AMY VLEMINCKX: Hi. I'm Amy Vleminckx. I take care of operations at North Star, which is the residential dining facility in Appel Commons located on the North Campus. Over the summer, we have spent many hours planning for the return of students and are implementing many safety standards to give parents and students peace of mind when they dine with us.
My door is always open. And I encourage feedback. So we are continually improving our services to our guests. I want your student to feel comfortable coming to me with any concerns. It is our job to make the dining experience a great one, no matter what.
LETTY ANDRADE: It's been a long time coming. And yours are finally here. Congratulations. It is my sincere pleasure to welcome you to our Cornell family. We here at Dining look forward to nourishing those that will be joining us every step of the way.
My name is Letty Andrade. I am Dining's catering chef. I hope to meet you and all your families through your journey here. To all of you, the best.
STEPHANIE ELLIS: I'm Stephanie Ellis, senior dining manager for Cornell Dining. I'm sure your students are facing many emotions. And I want you to know they are not alone.
Together, we are a strong community. And I am excited to join your journey. I welcome you any time to join me for a virtual coffee or tea.
BRANDON FORTENBERRY: Hello. My name is Brandon Fortenberry. And I'm the director for Cornell Catering and Concessions. We're so excited to be a part of your welcome to Cornell campus.
Cornell is a special place to me. And if I can help it be so for you as well, please feel free to reach out to me. I'll be the one in the bow tie.
CHLOE GREENHALGH: Hi. My name is Chloe Greenhalgh. And I am the chef for Ag Quad Retail Eateries. I will listen to your students' concerns with compassion and professionalism and do my very best to create an inspiring and nourishing year.
MICHELLE NARDI: Hi. I'm Michelle Nardi, the dietitian for Cornell Dining. I work closely with our talented and passionate chefs and culinary teams to make sure our menus are healthy and nutritionally balanced. Additionally, we work hard to develop menus that contain minimal allergens and provide options for our students following vegan, vegetarian, kosher, and halal diets.
A big part of my job is to help students with food allergies and other special dietary needs navigate the dining halls. While I won't physically be on campus, I'm always just an email or a Zoom call away. If your child has food allergies or other special dietary needs, please email me at email@example.com.
MATT SEEBER: Hi, I'm Matt Seeber, the chef at Flora Rose House on West Campus. West Campus is a very special living and learning environment that encourages active involvement in the community. Because of our smaller size residences, faculty and staff are very hands on. And we actively look for ways to remain visible, establish relationships, and interact with our students.
You can always find me in the kitchen or wandering the dining room, making new friends. Welcome to Cornell University. I'm super excited to connect with all of our West Campus students this fall.
MENG-WEI HSU: Welcome. My name's Meng-Wei Hsu. And I'm the senior operations manager who oversees our retail operations, from the a la carte cafes to the coffee shops across campus. I'm very excited to meet your students at Trillium, the Dairy Bar, Cafe Jennie, or any of our 14 locations.
My team and I have implemented New York state and health department guidelines in all our dining operations, taking the students' health and safety as the number one priority. We're providing a casual and delightful dining experience. Again, welcome to Cornell.
DEBO ADEBOLA: Hi. My name is Debo Adebola. And I'm the student director for Cornell Dining. I just graduated with the class of 2020. And I'm now finishing my graduate degree in aerospace engineering. I've been with Cornell Dining for four years. I'm currently a student director for Cornell Dining.
I will work to provide our student team with tools to ensure we maintain the safe practices our full-time staff have optimized over the last few months. Cornell Dining is a great environment for students to learn, to be part of a community, and enjoy the perks of working. But now more than ever, we will ensure that those who join our team will join a team that puts their health first, and in doing so, to keep every student who comes into our eateries as safe as possible. To do so, my student team policies, and especially around health, wellness, and hygiene, will be stressed and monitored very seriously.
ANNA BEN-SHLOMO: I'm Anna Ben-Shlomo. And I'm the sustainability coordinator here at Cornell Dining. I wanted to let you know that will continue to be as sustainable as possible by providing plenty of vegan and vegetarian options in our menus as part of our commitment to the menus of Change Initiative. We will also continue to compost all food waste at Cornell Dining facilities and buying local and regional products, among many other practices.
This semester, students will be provided with an option of purchasing a reusable takeout container and utensils so they can minimize their impact on the environment. Another sustainable option will be making a reservation online to dine in on [INAUDIBLE]. We look forward to seeing you. And good luck.
LORNA BRADSHAW: Hi. I'm Lorna Bradshaw, the food safety and sanitation coordinator for Cornell Dining. Our team leverages the wealth of public health expertise within the university to ensure all of our decisions are framed within the context of safety first and guided by the best information available. Building on our already high standards for food safety and sanitation, a huge amount of effort has been made to reshape our program to provide appropriate environments for the current circumstances. This is an ongoing process, which we will continue to adapt as guidance evolves.
But we know that the sustenance we provide is so much more than food and drink. Cornell Dining is an important anchor in the community life of our students. We will hold fast to our commitment of nourishing the future. And our dining spaces will continue to be a source of strength for our community.
SPEAKER 1: Thank you for watching this installment of the Family Orientation Video Information Series. We hope that you will join us for the other sessions in the series, which are listed here.
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The Office of New Student Programs created this six-part video series to educate and connect you to the services, programming, and support available to Cornell students. Each video is approximately 40 minutes long. In this video, you will meet staff members from Housing & Residential Life and Cornell Dining.