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Cornell University

Willard Straight Hall

Please note that many services and rooms in Willard Straight Hall have been taken off-line during the pandemic. Any rooms that are available for use can be reserved through Cornell's Chatter system.

As one of the first college unions in the United States, this Gothic structure was modeled after Hart House at the University of Toronto and bears the name of a Cornell alumnus whose wife was instructed to use his money " make Cornell a more human place." Willard Straight Hall is a vibrant and well-loved student union, considered to be the central spoke of Cornell's wide-reaching campus activities.

Willard Straight Hall (WSH) supports the events and functions of the many units within the Office of the Dean of Students and Campus & Community Engagement, and building services such as:

  • Cornell Cinema
  • Sorority and Fraternity Life
  • Off-Campus Housing
  • Campus Activities
  • Student Organizations Business Office

At 103,000 square feet and 6 floors, WSH is also home to:

  • 2 meeting room lofts
  • 5th Floor Lounge
  • Administrative Offices for the Dean of Students and Campus & Community Engagement
  • Art Gallery
  • Dining Facilities (Ivy Room, Okenshields, and Straight from the Market)
  • International Lounge
  • Memorial Room
  • Game Room
  • North Room (dance studio)

Reserve Space in Willard Straight Hall using Cornell's Chatter system.


  • 1901 — Straight graduates from Cornell’s College of Architecture
  • 1918 — Willard Straight dies of pneumonia during WWI in France. His widow, Dorothy Whitney Straight, decides to build a student union in his name.
  • 1925 — Willard Straight Hall opens and is one of the first student unions in the country.
  • 1934 — Beer and ale first served.
  • 1935 — Ivy Room allows women to dine there. Woman originally entered through a separate entrance and could only mingle with men in the Art Gallery.
  • 1943 — Memorial Room and east and west lounges opened to both men and women.
  • 1943 — The Terrace is enclosed to create an Army Mess Hall. This becomes Okenshield’s.
  • 1954 — First television installed in what became Okenshield’s.
  • 1958 — William C. Whitney Foundation awards grant for Willard Straight Hall to purchase art.
  • 1959 — WVBR goes on the air from Willard Straight Hall.
  • 1969 — Willard Straight Hall Takeover of 1969.
  • 1970 — Women work at front desk for the first time since WWII.
  • 1989 — Theater refurbished to become permanent home of Cornell Cinema.
  • 2003 — Ceramics Studio renovated into state-of-the-art facility.
  • 2005 — Fifth floor Game Room renovated to become the 5th Floor Lounge with meeting space, reception space, and room for performance rehearsals.
  • 2007 — CIT Public Computer Lab installed on the first floor near the Cinema.
  • 2007 — Second floor renovated to house the Office of Student Support and Diversity Education.