Remember applying for housing?
You were desperate to get into your favorite dorm, and you sure as hell didn’t want to be stuck in that one. So you found a roommate on Facebook, and you decided to apply for the same residence hall together. You needed to boost the odds of getting in— the food rocks, the location is great, or maybe it’s just easy to get away with parties. And – as a last resort – you signed up for an exploration floor.
You don’t remember that?
Suddenly move-in day arrives, followed that night by a floor meeting. Your RA says something bizarre about going to the UN, and you’re thinking, “Cool, college has field trips!”
Oh no, young grasshopper. You’re on an Exploration Floor.
Currently, NYU offers 20 different floors on which that first-year students may apply to live, and an additional 20 for upperclassmen; that’s 40 areas of interest in total. Students have reportedly been placed on these floors without application, and though it’s rare, some are turned away for placement on an Exploration Floor. You can’t be on the Choices floor if you write about how much you love to pack a quick bowl before bed, though it appears some have ended up on the substance-free floor despite lack of interest.
First Year Exploration Floors for the 2012-2013 school year include Rubin’s Human Rights and International Relations, Third North’s Outdoor Explorations, and Third North’s City, Culture and Art, just to name a few. Susannah Perkins, a freshman living on Third North’s Outdoor Explorations, was eager to share with me her experience:
Everybody on the floor ended up there by choice. I think most of us wanted to be here because, while the city is vibrant and beautiful and magical, it’s also insane and overwhelming and claustrophobic. Being on an Explorations floor makes it a lot easier to carve out a community and safe haven for yourself, and being on the outdoor floor in particular gives you an opportunity to escape the city when it becomes a bit too much.
Those who end up on these mysterious floors seem to share these warm and fuzzy sentiments. They adore the familial bonds and common interests associated with themed floors. For freshmen in particular, it’s a fool-proof way to ensure friendships from Day One. I mean, how hard is it to say “hello” to a neighbor when you know they have something in common with you already?
“Hey stranger. Want to go birdwatching?”
“Okay, BFF, sure thing!”
Many of these floors are located in low-cost residence halls, providing students with less financial wiggle room the opportunity to get involved. The Human Rights and International Relations Floor at Rubin is dominated by low cost triples— and no air conditioning. One might even suggest that the lack of air conditioning unites floor mates further during the warm end of August. Julia Dankberg agreed, sharing,
“From extreme temperatures to the United Nations, we have done it all.”
Dankberg is talking about her floor’s recent trip to the United Nations last Friday. Apparently this isn’t unique to Rubin’s 12th floor— other Explorations communities have organized events relevant to their theme. These opportunities are not mandatory, though it’s preferred that each resident attend one event per month. For freshman Marcus Jones, this wasn’t too difficult. After living on the “Arts, Cultures, and The City” floor at Third North for just a few weeks, he’s already attended an NBC premiere, a documentary screening, and is planning to see Cosmopolis next week. With a new activity every week, it’s difficult not to go to one a month.
Interestingly enough, no one had anything negative to say about his or her time living on the floor. To further seal the deal, admission to these floors is based on a fairly easy application. Typically, they consist of a few short answer questions, including how you would use a $100 budget for planning a floor-wide event. But don’t worry— these short answers are nothing like those you wrote when you applied to NYU, and there are plenty of spots on each floor.
So why do so many students raise their eyebrows in confusion about Explorations? Perhaps it’s the daunting idea of a cult of college students raving about K-Pop. Maybe it’s dorky to box yourself in to a commitment with those you live with. Or simply enough, people just don’t know about what they’re missing out on. Freshman Julia Dankberg insists,
“A lot of people don’t know about Explorations because they don’t care.”
And that also might be true. In the hustle and bustle of NYC, it’s perfectly manageable for those who have the guts to explore on their own to go do it. But for those who want a nudge in the right direction with a group of warm people, Explorations is the way to go.