Campus Quality

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Campus Quality


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3 College Freshman

Campus Quality: CMU is a very unique place. There are numerous places to study (as so many CMU students spend the majority of their time doing just that), but the cold can discourage many from venturing anywhere but the closest places. The athletic facilities are Ok, the library is really only used to studying, and its really difficult to get a seat at most places around lunchtime in the UC

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Freshman

Campus Quality: There aren't a ton of athletic centers or green spaces, but it works. It's a small campus.

4 College Freshman

Campus Quality: Lot of construction, so they're getting better. More and more recreational and athletic facilities are popping up.

1 person found this useful Report
5 College Sophomore

Campus Quality: Besides a few older buildings (with a lot of charm) that need a bit of renovation, the facilities are great.

1 person found this useful Report
3 College Sophomore

Campus Quality: I do not usually use facilities, but they are useful if necessary


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Student Author OverviewWhat's this?

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While the University Center (UC) is a favorite among students, there is a general consensus that all of the academic facilities at Carnegie Mellon are exceptional. The library and all of the academic buildings are open for students all night during the school week, and almost every building has some sort of eatery. Hunt Library is another favorite, mostly for the fact that it has a café that is open whenever the building is—perfect for the all-nighters that CMU students are used to suffering through. The only academic building that is not pleasing to most students is Wean Hall, the home to a majority of the science departments. Wean's concrete walls and prison demeanor differ greatly from the attractive architecture of every other academic building on campus. Walking through this building, you are most likely to see a T-shirt on a sleep-deprived student who probably lives the CMU stereotype: "Sex kills. Come to CMU and live forever."

Outside of the academic buildings (there aren't many), CMU has the UC and Skibo Gymnasium. The UC is a favorite because it is kind of a one-stop shop. There are two fitness rooms, racquetball courts, full basketball courts, a 25-yard pool, a diving pool, a convenience store, the bookstore, and the art store. There are multiple ATMs, eating centers, and lounges. CMU students usually do nothing but rave about the UC; however, reviews about Skibo Gym are completely different. The weight room is really cramped, and nonvarsity students get kicked out when a team needs to train. The court inside the gym is well-kept; however, the other arenas and training spaces look like they probably did when the building was erected in 1924. To top it all off, the weight room closes at 10 p.m.—that's basically the "afternoon" in CMU time, so most student just stick to the UC.

Facts & Statistics

Service & Maintenance Staff
Campus Size
144 acres
Student Centers
The University Center (The UC)
Campus Library?
Main Libraries
  • Hunt Library
  • Mellon Institute Library
Popular Places to Chill
  • The fence
  • Hunt Library
  • Skibo Café
  • The UC
  • The Underground
Bar on Campus
None, although Panther Hollow Inn (PHI) is right down the street.
Bowling on Campus
Coffeehouse on Campus
  • Maggie Murph Café is located on the first floor of Hunt Library. During the school week, it is open whenever the library is, which means, 24 hours a day Monday through Thursday and until 9 p.m. on Friday.
  • Skibo Café on the second floor of the University Center is more known for its personal pizzas and fro-yo than coffee. However, this is a good place to go for a quick and inexpensive espresso, chai, or even hot cocoa; they make it on the spot instead of leaving it to sit in a large container all day.
  • Tazza D'oro is on the third floor of the Gates computer science building, and has some of the best pastries and espresso on campus. While it's a tad pricey (think your average Starbucks), Tazza D'oro takes Dinextra/Flex Dollars/Plaid Ca$h for non-meal items and meal blocks for the lunch paninis and salads.
Movie Theater on Campus
McConomy Auditorium in the University Center
"Green" Initiatives
Stever House is the first residence hall on campus to be Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certified. It achieved a silver rating in 2003 by the U.S. Green Building Council. In 2004, another dormitory, Henderson House, was renovated to receive a silver rating, as well. Six buildings on campus have "green roofs," and every single building has both a recycling and trash center. While this may seem trivial, every light switch on campus has a "Remember to turn me off!" sticker, which actually works as a reminder!
School Slang
  • The black chairs: The black leather chairs in the middle of the UC where people meet/sleep in between classes
  • C-Cons: The computer lab assistants
  • CFA: College of Fine Arts (Can't Fu***n' Add)
  • Club Hunt: Hunt Library; the outside of the building is lit up at night, and students will spend the night here instead of at an actual club sometimes-hence the name.
  • Cluster: A computer lab
  • CS: Computer science (Can't Score; Classes Suck)
  • The cut: Carnegie Mellon's central lawn
  • The Donner Ditch: An area behind Donner Hall, the site of numerous barbecues
  • The Dungeon: The basement of Donner Hall
  • The fence: Fence in the middle of campus that gets painted by students as tradition
  • Flagstaff: A grassy hill behind Hunt Library and Baker Hall; part of Schenley Park
  • H&SS: The College of Humanities & Social Sciences (High School Studies; Hot, Sexy, & Stupid; H & Less Stress)
  • The HUB: Enrollment offices in the basement of Warner Hall. Pay your tuition here, request official transcripts, or get a replacement ID card.
  • Maggie Mo: Nickname for Margaret Morrison, a building on campus
  • Mini 1 & Mini 2: One semester can be divided into two mini sessions. A few classes are offered in this shorter format.
  • Misc. Market: An online bulletin board where students post random messages and sell things
  • OLR: Online registration
  • PHI: Panther Hollow Inn, a popular bar right off campus
  • The quad: Where the fraternities and sororities are located
  • Schlag: Hamerschlag Hall, an all-male and mostly freshman dorm building
  • The trucks: Food trucks on Tech Street, behind the soccer field and next to Donner House
  • The UC: The University Center, main student center on campus
  • Walking to the Sky: A 100 foot pole at the front of campus that juts up from the ground and has statues "walking" up the side. It loses its novelty after a few months and is resented by most students (also known as, "The pole").
  • Bagpipes: CMU has a strange and storied tradition of bagpipe-playing. It's not uncommon to hear the comforting (shrill) noise of the pipes floating through campus on almost any night of the week. This is one of CMU's more eccentric, endearing traditions that has come to grow on students. CMU is the only university in the country to offer a degree in bagpipe music.
  • Buggy: Buggies are small, cylindrical push carts that students race around the campus streets during Carnival Week. They've been called "glorified soap box cars," but they have evolved to become aerodynamic fiberglass vehicles. The buggies are piloted by a "pusher" and are steered by the driver, a female student who is situated within the buggy. Students prepare all year, building and testing their buggies so that they'll be ready to race in time for Spring Carnival.
  • Clippership: The Clippership is constantly offering leisure boat trips around Pittsburgh's three rivers. During orientation week, CMU reserves an entire ship for the incoming freshman class to party on all night. Upon graduation, seniors ride the ship again in a trip bidding farewell to CMU. As a freshman, it's a great way to meet new friends. As a senior, it's a fun way to say goodbye to everyone you've gotten to know through the course of your CMU career.
  • Dancers' Symposium: Dancers' Symposium is held yearly at the end of fall and spring semesters. The show features student-choreographed dances ranging in style from ballet to hip-hop. Any student can volunteer to dance or choreograph a dance. Many students perform in more than one dance.
  • The fence: At the center of CMU's campus, is "the fence." While the fence itself serves no practical purpose, it's a Carnegie Mellon tradition for students to paint personal messages or advertisements for parties on it. Students can only paint the fence between the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. Once it's painted, students must sleep outside to guard it from other students who are eager to paint it again before sunrise.
  • Greek Sing: Greek Sing is an annual event where CMU's Greek organizations perform original song and dance routines to support a local charitable organization. Every March, the fraternities and sororities compete in doubles and singles to raise money for a good cause and to see which Greek organizations can put on the best show.
  • The Kiltie Band: Have you ever seen a marching band perform every game decked out in full Scottish gear, kilts included? The Kiltie Band has been performing at every home football game since CMU hosted Notre Dame on Andrew Carnegie's birthday in 1922.
  • Lunar Gala: Lunar Gala is an annual student-run fashion show held every February. The models are all CMU students, and most of the design lines are student-designed and -made. Members of CMU's most prestigious dance troupes, DS Company and Soulstylz, perform during this two- to three-hour show, and more than 100 students are involved in the planning, designing, modeling, dancing, and lighting.
Urban Legends
  • A complete network of steam tunnels provides an underground way to get around the whole campus.
  • Bill Gates once offered to hire CMU's whole graduating computer science class.
  • Endowment at CMU is very small, which is supposedly why its ranking doesn't go up.
  • Playboy ranked CMU the "second-ugliest campus in America."
  • Wean Hall houses back-up computers for the Department of Defense.
Favorite Things To Do
While a lot of students are involved in varsity, intramural, or club sports, you'd be surprised how unimportant sports are to CMU student spectators. If you aren't playing a sport, running the track, or holed up in Hunt Library, you are most likely eating and listening to music in The Underground, or laying out on the cut if it's a nice day. On rainy weekends, you can head to the University Center to see a $1 movie or go to the Purnell Center to see one of the School of Drama's many outstanding performances.
Student Organizations Web Site
Student Newspaper
The Tartan
Clubs and Organizations on Campus
The 280-plus student organizations at Carnegie Mellon are overseen by the Committee on Student Organizations. Starting a new organization is relatively simple, and online applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Because there are so many organizations that students can become involved with, fall and winter activities fairs are hosted on the CFA lawn to introduce students to all of the student-run groups. The biggest events at CMU each year are arguably Bhangra in the Burgh, Lunar Gala, and Carnival. Mayur is CMU's largest South Asian organization, but not all students involved are South Asian! They host Bhangra in the Burgh, a large dance competition that invites the best bhangra teams from other Eastern schools. Lunar Gala is an annual fashion show that takes more than 100 students to produce. Carnival is also sponsored by the school's administration, but most aspects are run by students who are passionate about CMU's biggest tradition.
Student Activities Offered
  • Campus ministries
  • Choral groups
  • Concert band
  • Dance
  • Drama/theater
  • International student organization
  • Literary magazine
  • Marching band
  • Model UN
  • Music ensembles
  • Musical theater
  • Pep band
  • Radio station
  • Student government
  • Student-run film society
  • Symphony orchestra
  • Television station
  • Yearbook
Air Force ROTC: Yes
Navy ROTC: Yes
Army ROTC: Yes
Did You Know?
  • Late Night events are held by student groups in the University Center between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. every Friday and Saturday. These free and fun events provide both exposure to the group and some much needed entertainment. "Late Nights" can range from dance and musical performances to food tastings and service activities.
  • CMU is a "night owl" campus. People often don't start working until 9 or 10 p.m., and campus police doesn't even check IDs at the library until 2 a.m.
  • It is rumored that there are steam tunnels running underneath campus that extend from one end of campus to the other. Not many students venture to check the truth, but the KGB club (no relation to the USSR intelligence agency) apparently gives tours, although they are not for the faint of heart-there is a reason these steam tunnels remain a whispered rumor.
  • Students who are in or want to be in organizations can search and manage their involvement through OrgTracker. OrgTracker allows students to browse through profiles created by each organization. The application to create a new student group can be found here, as well.
  • The Activities Fair is held twice a year to recruit new members to organizations. The fall one is typically held on the CFA lawn, and the winter one in Wiegand Gymnasium in the University Center. Upwards of 200 organizations participate, so it is a good idea to arrive toward the start of the fair, and pick up a map to plot a plan of attack!

Student Polls

Rate the campus facilities in the following areas    Based on 76 responses

Very poor
  • Athletics/recreation
  • Classrooms
  • Computer labs
  • Dining
  • General aesthetics/architecture of campus
  • "Green" buildings/initiatives
  • Housing
  • Lawns/green space
  • Library
  • Modernity of facilities
  • Performing arts
  • Science/research labs
  • Student center
  • Study spots
  • Visual arts (work spaces, galleries)

What are your favorite things to do around campus?    Based on 24 responses

  • 15% Eat food
  • 12% Frat parties
  • 12% Musical productions, concerts, shows
  • 12% Hang out with friends
  • 11% Hang out on the Cut
  • 9% Workout
  • 8% Phipps conservatory
  • 8% Parks
  • 5% Fail exams
  • 3% SPIRIT House
  • 2% Play ultimate frisbee
  • 2% Find corners to cry in
  • 2% Be inspired

What are your favorite campus events or traditions?    Based on 25 responses

  • 22% The fence
  • 21% Carnival
  • 14% Buggy
  • 10% Dancers' Symposium
  • 9% Greek Sing
  • 9% Lunar Gala
  • 8% Orientation
  • 4% Booth
  • 1% The Kiltie Band
  • 1% Bagpipes
  • 1% Summer break, spring break, winter break...
  • 0% Clippership

How accommodating is this school to students with physical disabilities?    Based on 29 responses

  • 59% Very accommodating. The school does everything in their power to make sure the needs of every student are met.
  • 24% Pretty accommodating. The school has taken a lot of steps to accommodate the needs of students, but they've missed a few things.
  • 17% Slightly accommodating. The school has taken a few steps to accommodate students, but not nearly enough.
  • 0% Not accommodating. Students with physical disabilities are practically ignored here.

What is your overall opinion of your school and the campus community?    Based on 85 responses

  • 28% I love everything about my school and have a lot of campus pride.
  • 55% I like mostly everything about my school, but there are some things I wish were different.
  • 14% The school community is okay-we're all just here for an education, nothing more.
  • 2% I hate my school and have no school spirit.


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