Story by Christina “Chrissy” Joseph, Senior Communication Major
Photos by Mark Mulville and KC Kratt, MFA '84
When winter's winds become harsh and the snow begins to blanket this All-America city, students are left with two choices: arrive to class with soggy jeans or stay in bed. Fortunately for my favorite boot-cut denim, the decision to go to class is made easier by a thoughtful feature unique to the University at Buffalo: It is said that one can journey through the buildings on the North Campus without ever stepping foot outside!
To test this claim, I set out on a quest for truth on a cold and breezy November afternoon from diamond-shaped Cooke and Hochstetter Halls, home to the pharmacy school and biology departments. Between these two diamonds is the first of many connecting walkways, with only a sheet of glass separating me from the rain falling on the other side. This walkway leads to the Natural Sciences Complex, where many state-of-the-art lecture halls and classrooms are housed supporting the departments of chemistry and geology.
My journey moved underground with my descent down an attractive spiral staircase leading to the stampede of hungry students grabbing food-on-the-go at Bert's, the subterraneous express food court. Next door is the quaint, yet distinctive kosher deli where Chef Ely serves up delicious Muslim, Jewish and vegan dishes like schwarma, falafel and veggie borekas.
Down the hall from Bert's and on the way to Capen Hall, one can't help but pause to read the Student Association–designated bulletin boards. This week, I notice a flyer on what topics the Caribbean Student Association will discuss at Friday's meeting. Posted on yellow paper, someone is trying to unload a '95 Pontiac Bonneville for $2,000. Good luck, buddy!
After a series of turns, I am on the ground floor of Capen, under the Science and Engineering Library, where once again one can grab a quick bite to eat or visit the Office of Admissions.
As I venture into Norton, the route becomes darker and narrower as students fill the hallway aimed at Knox Hall. In Knox, the walls are uniquely lined with stones, and, like horses on a carousel, the students are forced to travel in a circular motion around vending machines and an ATM.
I am about halfway through the academic spine as I enter the tunnel that leads to the Student Union. It is a museum of display cases showcasing the impact of student activities and Greek life. Unfortunately, the “slippery when wet” sign alludes to the penetration of today's precipitation. When I reach the Student Union, it is buzzing with the stir of undergraduates eating, talking and studying. I venture up a set of staircases to reach a catwalk connecting to Lockwood Library in mid-air. A series of these aerial walkways links Lockwood to Clemens Hall, Clemens to Baird, and Baird to Slee. Please note that the corridor from Lockwood to Clemens is a very drafty one. Now on the second floor of Slee, its bright orange elevator is a welcome change from the last five minutes of “tunnel vision.”
I only have two more buildings to survey; however, it seems I have run out of passageways to navigate. It turns out that it is not possible to access the Center for the Arts (CFA) from Slee Hall. After all this progress, I actually have to get wet! My investigation leads to the knowledge of an unfinished tunnel established behind door B1 in the basement of CFA. Room B1 is rumored to house dead bodies or a secret, comfy lounge. Jeff Sherven, an instructional support technician in the art department, revealed that B1 only serves as storage space for the department's records and pedestals. Obviously, they cleared the bodies before I got there. Leading away from CFA is an almost magical hallway, 383 feet in length, to Alumni Arena, where I conclude the experiment.
My tour ends having traveled up 47 steps, down 25 steps, past 30 bulletin boards, 15 vending machines, through 14 buildings, along 5 catwalks, beside 3 food courts, and in 1 orange elevator, finally concluding at the UB Bulls' locker room in Alumni Arena. Thankfully, my pants are still dry.