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Cornell University

Cornell's Residential Experience and a shift in residency and dining

Cornell’s Residential Experience and Change to a Two-Year Residency Requirement 

The first two years of the educational experience on campus are foundational to students' academic success, personal development, and the ability to build a cohesive community. Students choose to come to Cornell for its academic reputation and for what they will experience inside of the classroom. They also choose Cornell because it is a residential campus where they will meet new people from all over the world. The residential experience is fundamental to the success of the overall student experience. With this in mind, Cornell’s residential experience provides students with the solid foundation to thrive inside and outside of the classroom.

Upon completion, the North Campus Residential Expansion will give Cornell the ability to house 100% of its first-year students in developmentally appropriate campus housing, and 100% of its sophomore students in campus residence halls, co-ops, or affiliated housing. Toni Morrison Hall and Ganędagǫ: Hall will open for residency in fall 2021, and Hu, Ginsburg, and McClintock Halls will open for occupancy in fall 2022. 

Beginning with first-year and transfer students arriving in fall 2021, Cornell’s new residency plan will take effect. All first- and second-year full-time students on the Ithaca campus will be required to live on campus through the spring semester of their second academic year of enrollment. (Students transferring to Cornell who had two years of an on-campus residential experience at their previous institution, or who are matriculating as a junior or senior, will not be subject to the residency requirement.) All undergraduate students living on campus must also subscribe to a designated meal plan. In lieu of a second year of residency, eligible students may be permitted to live in University-approved affiliated housing. Please see Cornell Housing’s website for further details and information on exemptions.

Cornell’s residential communities on North, South, and West campuses, all with their own social space amenities, are designed to create engaging residential environments that maximize community building. Live-in, professional staff members will continue to provide students with community and program development, administrative management and support for their residence; and the new first-year student buildings will each have a Faculty-in-Residence who lives in the building and will help to foster academic and intellectual learning and personal development. Faculty engagement and involvement are key elements of the residential experience.

Universal Meal Plan – beginning fall 2021 for new students

A vital part of the living-learning experience at Cornell, and key to our residential community mission, is the Cornell Dining environment. Our dining facilities provide students, staff, and faculty not just a meal, but a rich dining experience that celebrates the diversity of our campus population while fueling the educational process.Good health and nutrition are critical to academic excellence for all students but we also know food security continues to be an issue affecting our population. Student & Campus Life and Cornell Dining decided that it must be a priority to eliminate a student’s uncertainty about where their next meal will come from, and the dilemma of whether to spend money on food or for other basic necessities.

To that end, new residential students enrolling in the fall of 2021 will be automatically enrolled in Cornell Dining's new Unlimited Meal Plan. Priced at what had been only a 14-meal-per-week meal plan level, the Unlimited Meal Plan is fully covered by financial aid for eligible students, and is a great value for everyone, including upper level students living off campus. In addition to unlimited visits to our residential dining rooms, the plan includes a supply of Big Red Bucks (BRBs) for use at the Cornell Dairy Bar and in our cafés, grills, and convenience stores.

Cornell’s array of dining options includes Risley Dining Room, our certified gluten-free, peanut-free, and tree-nut-free facility, and we’re expanding hours at many of our residential dining rooms to better meet the diverse scheduling needs of our student population, as well as their expectations of dining flexibility. 

This coming year we’ll be opening our newly remodeled Willard Straight Hall dining room, Okenshields, to offer much more central campus seating, and we’ll begin remodeling North Star Dining Room on North Campus for the first time since it opened twenty years ago. Also, this year, we’ll launch a new café in the first building of the NCRE project, and in the fall we’ll begin to preview the diverse culinary offerings of our new flagship dining room in the new Toni Morrison Hall.

Students choosing to live in the West Campus House System (WCHS)*, are required to have the House Meal Plan designated specifically for WCHS residents and will be automatically enrolled. The House Meal Plan, too, is priced at what had been our 14-meal-per-week meal plan level but offers unlimited meals in all of our residential dining rooms. As with the Unlimited Meal Plan, the House Meal Plan offers a supply of BRBs for use elsewhere on campus.

*WCHS includes Alice Cook House (Boldt Tower, Boldt Hall, North Baker Hall/Language House, Baker Tower, Cook House, Carl Becker House, Hans Bethe House (Bethe House and McFaddin Hall), William Keeton House, and Flora Rose House (Founders Hall, Lyon Hall, Mennen Hall, South Baker Hall, Rose House).