by Rashmi Jeswani, Information Sciences and Technologies MS student
Rochester gets cold during the winter. Bitterly cold. Once the snow starts falling and the temperature starts dropping, you begin questioning whether or not you want to go outside. Fortunately, RIT has an extensive tunnel system throughout the campus that can get you from class to class with minimal exposure to the elements. However, if you’ve ever been down there, you know that it takes some exploration to get the layout down. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate guide to the RIT tunnels to get you on your way come wintertime. For reference, you can access maps of the tunnels on the FMS website.
Residence Hall Tunnels
Probably the most familiar tunnel system to most RIT students is the one that connects most of residential side together. Everyone who lives in the residence halls goes down there at some point, whether it be to go to Gracie’s during the winter or do your laundry. However, there are some hidden aspects of the system that you may not have seen if you have not spent too much time down there. You also might only be familiar with a small segment of the system that gets you to Gracie’s or the post office. Getting around in the tunnels can be a bit disorienting at first, so it’s good to know some major landmarks in the system. Your first landmark should be knowing the location you usually enter at, so at the very least if you get turned around, you can make your way back there. This could be any of the dozen or so entrances to the tunnel system, coming from any of the buildings on residential side. Some of the major landmarks include Sol’s Underground, the Corner Store, and the curved tunnel leading up to Gracie’s.
Academic Side Tunnels
The academic-side tunnels are a very different beast from the dorm-side tunnels. People use them a lot less, often favoring to brave the cold or walk through the upper levels of building rather than figure them out. There are three distinct systems on academic side, and they are not nearly as large as the dorm side system. There is a system connecting the SAU and the Eastman building, one for the Infinity Quad system, and the tunnels under Booth and Gannett halls. The SAU-Eastman tunnels begin directly under the bridge between academic and residential side, leading into the athletics area. The easiest way to get in, however, is right through the Center for Campus Life near the fountain. Behind the fountain, there is a stairwell that will lead you down into the lower level. The main tunnel system door will be right in front of you. To get to Eastman, head past the WITR studio and the elevators and stairwell into the building will be at the end of the hall. If you make a turn in front of the WITR studio, that hallway will bring you up to RITZ Sports Zone and the stairs to the SAU.
The Infinity Quad system connects the Wallace Library, Liberal Arts Hall, Gleason Hall, and Gosnell Hall together. You also have the ability to make it all the way to Louise Slaughter Hall without stepping outside via the pedestrian bridge that connects Engineering Hall and Golisano Hall. This system can be a bit confusing, especially in the twists and turns of the area under Liberal Arts Hall. However, once you get the hang of it, getting around is a breeze. Once you enter the library basement, head toward the large, glass walled classroom. Past this, you’ll enter the Liberal Arts Hall basement, which contains some of the larger lecture halls on campus, such as A201 or A205. The tunnel that leads you to the rest of the system is behind a set of double doors labeled in a recessed part of the basement next to some offices “TO ENGINEERING.” Don’t worry if those doors are shut, they keep them closed to make sure the heat from the various pipes does not overheat Liberal Arts hall.
Once you’re through there, you will have the option to walk straight through to Gleason, or make a left and head to Gosnell. Getting all the way to Slaughter while staying inside involves heading up into Gleason, which connects to Engineering hall, and heading up to the second floor to get to the bridge. This will bring you across to Golisano. After you get there, head through the building until it connects to Slaughter Hall on the far end. Finally, you have the tunnels underneath Booth and Gannett.
Once you figure out the system, it’s almost as fast as taking the Quarter Mile to class every day. That said, make sure you know the system before using it five minutes before you need to be at class. Familiarize yourself with the routes one day so you’re able to navigate the tunnels like a pro when old man winter comes knocking.