If Spartan Village goes, students pay the price
Spartan Village is old. We understand that, and so does Residence Education and Housing Services, or REHS, which has devised a strategic plan that puts the demolition of Spartan Village Apartments between 2017 and 2020.
It’s time to tear it down, but not without first considering the massive displacement that mainly will affect international and graduate students.
Spartan Village and University Village are the only apartment-style living options for students and often are aimed at attracting international students, graduate students and students who are married or have children.
For international students, finding an off-campus apartment without the assistance of MSU could prove difficult. Most international students come to MSU without even knowing what a social security number is. Imagine how tricky it would be to make international calls or send emails to landlords in another country. How can they be sure they aren’t being taken advantage of? Having MSU take care of housing for international students looking for apartment-style living is one less thing to worry about. Moving to a new country can be stressful enough — imagine how difficult it would be for an international student to have to secure their own housing on top of that.
Organizations such as the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions are aimed at making international students’ transition to MSU easier, but are the staff members equipped to handle the massive influx of questions and concerns about housing if Spartan Village is no longer an option? What other kinds of resources will REHS provide those international students when Spartan Village is torn down?
REHS has yet to express any plans to replace Spartan Village Apartments, possibly furthering the lack of housing experienced on campus.
Spartan Village has around 1,000 apartments in the complex and about 90 percent of those are occupied. Clearly, the interest is there.
With the absence of Spartan Village, more students might opt to live in dormitories. Considering MSU already is placing large numbers of students in transitional housing, tearing down and not replacing Spartan Village only would worsen that problem.
Spartan Village also is an affordable option for financially independent students. A standard two-bedroom apartment costs about $387 per person each month, a price that nearly is impossible to find living anywhere else. With affordable housing scarce, many students might be forced to take out more student loans.
REHS has good reasons to tear down Spartan Village. They simply need to consider and prepare for the difficulties that could arise from the demolition.
The university needs to understand that demolishing Spartan Village is not as simple as tearing down an old building. The absence of Spartan Village will affect several aspects of student life at MSU that need to be considered when the Board of Trustees decides what to do with the land. Hopefully they will choose to build a better apartment complex.
Although the green space left over by Cherry Lane Apartments on Trowbridge and Harrison roads is nice, another empty lot is not what students need right now.
International students might need help locating apartment-style housing. Students with families and children need their own space in which to live. Graduate students need cost-effective apartments.
If the university moves forward with plans for demolition, these students need reliable, reasonably priced housing — and they need it before Spartan Village is gone.