If you’re finding this out for the first time, I’m
sorry that I’m the one that has to tell you
this. Someone should really have told you
sooner, but here goes: Rochester is located
in the northern hemisphere, where it gets really
cold in the winter. Plan on wearing a winter coat
from at least November to April. My first year
here, two years ago, it was sunny for about ten
days during the entire academic year. There’s
a reason for everyone to want to go outside as
little as possible, so RIT addressed that need in
the form of a series of underground tunnels that
connect various parts of campus.
There are a few sets of tunnels on campus. There
is one set on the dorm-side of campus and one on
the academic side. There’s also one in the middle
connecting the SAU, Eastman, and the Clark
Gym. These sets are not connected to each other;
to get across campus, you must go outside.
The dorm side tunnels are laid out in a V shape,
with Building 28 (it doesn’t have a real name) on
one end, Grace Watson Hall in the middle, and
the Lyndon B. Johnson building (LBJ) on the other
end. This leads us to our first Universal Tunnel
Truth: The shortest distance between two points
almost never involves the tunnels. For example,
it would take two minutes to walk outside from
Building 30 (which also has no real name) to the
Commons to buy a delicious garbage plate. In the
tunnels, it’s a good 20-minute hike.
That being said, they do serve a purpose. The
tunnels are where the laundry rooms, the Corner
Store, and Sol’s are located. Sol’s and the Corner
Store (known colloquially as the ‘Co-Ho’) are convenience
stores. The Corner Store stocks more
food-related items, but Sol’s has a lot of semi-necessary
things (like irons and birthday balloons)
that aren’t particularly appetizing. Apart from
that, please note Universal Tunnel Truth Two:
Campus stores are overpriced, so unless you’ve
got a meal plan, you’re better off getting things
Like I said, I don’t use the tunnels that much, so
I needed to go exploring to get enough information
so I could write about them. So I put on my
fedora (like any good journalist or explorer does)
and went spelunking.
The tunnels under Buildings 32 and 30,
while lacking stalactites, have a lot of
unmarked doors where special rooms are
set aside for use by fraternities. Not being
part of one, I don’t know what’s in there. But that’s
not nearly as mysterious as the unmarked Finance
and Administration office under Building 30… As
much as I hate to spoil the surprise, it’s a server
room. The tunnels on that side also contain Telefund,
the second largest division of RIT in charge
of calling parents and asking them for money (the
largest being the students themselves).
These tunnels come up in Grace Watson Hall and
pass through from there to Gleason and eventually
through all the other dorms, and finally
to LBJ. The tunnels in this area are lined with
graffiti-covered pipes. Some of the pipes tell their
function, such as CITY WATR, DUEL TEMP, or
MARIO, but others are more eclectic. One pipe is
written from the perspective of a pipe that hates
his job, and encourages people to do the things
that make them happy.
On another pipe, philosophy is debated. “You
are free when you’ve lost everything,” says one
graffitist. “No,” replies another, “because I’m not
a penniless hippie.” You have to admit, they both
make some good points. The pipes are also littered
with internet memes and the like. It’s a veritable
archeological record of terrible cyber fads.
For people with a more legitimate taste in art, the
walls are also painted with murals in this area. A
few new ones go up every year for various clubs,
organizations, or just groups of people on campus.
At any other college, there would be only one
Star Trek mural. We have two, one signed with
what I can only assume is an accurate stardate.
The Electronic Gaming Society’s mural shows
several video game characters, including Mario,
who is depicted holding an Xbox controller.
Cartoons also have a disproportional representation,
including Buzz Lightyear, The Jetsons, and
Spiderman vs. Doctor Octopus. This last one was
painted in 1990, 14 years before the match-up
happened on the big screen.
Ritchie’s is also located in the tunnels. They’ve
got a big TV, a pool table, an air hockey table, and
a foosball table. It’s free, if you’re into that kind
of thing. A much larger and less crowded version
is located at the RITz Sports Zone under the SAU.
They charge, though.
My advice, tunnel-wise, is to just go
above ground and save yourself
some time. You’ll get fresh air and
exercise. Also, Parking and Transportation
is working on a plan to make travel on
campus (including on foot) suck less. Hopefully,
it calls for some combination of global warming
and a monorail.