Let’s say I went for a walk through MSU’s 5,200-acre campus to visit the residential neighborhoods on a gorgeous summer day - I know it might be hard to imagine what summer is like after this winter, but bear with me.
Let’s say I start out in Brody Complex Neighborhood, dining on fine cuisine in its snazzy, cavernous cafeteria, Brody Square. It might be a bit far from everything, but who cares when residents have brand new, bigger rooms and the largest cafeteria on campus?
Making my way down Michigan Avenue, I end up in ivy-coated West Circle, with its Tudor-style Harry Potter charm. Beaumont Tower smiles upon me like a benevolent demigod, wishing me well in my endeavors. MSU’s long and proud history is evident in every blade of grass and every stone from Williams to Snyder Halls. Yes, this is what college is supposed to look like, I think.
Then I cross the Red Cedar River with a wave to Sparty on Kalamazoo Street and Red Cedar Road and end up in South Neighborhood with Spartan Stadium at my back, breathing in the palpable Spartan athletic glories. I look around for football, basketball and hockey players, hoping to catch their eye and tweet that Adreian Payne looked at me. With the stadium’s enormous presence, I can’t help but feel proud to go to a Big Ten school.
I double back to go down Shaw Lane to see Shaw Hall on the glittering Red Cedar River, then make a left at Bogue Street to check out Snyder, Phillips, Mason and Abbot Halls, which mimic West Circle’s historic charms. I think to myself, wow, this campus is truly amazing.
Then I get to East Neighborhood.
Located at the butt-end of campus, East Neighborhood is dominated by Hubbard Hall’s oppressive 12-story facade. There are fewer trees, boring architecture and the closest semblance of is the tacky light-up Spartan logo standing on the Akers Hall roof.
As a resident of East Neighborhood, I can’t say I love it. Or even like it.
It’s hard to feel like you’re actually on campus when it just looks like a group of three-star hotels on the outskirts of town.
I see East Neighborhood as the place where I sleep and do my homework. There’s really nothing to it, especially compared to what the rest of campus has to offer.
It’s all flat ground and straight lines, with a few sad trees, three unremarkable cafeterias and a bunch of Lyman Briggs kids. There’s no ivy-covered academic buildings here. It’s essentially where people get stuck when there’s no more room on the better parts of campus.
Also, East Neighborhood is so far away from everything else that getting anywhere requires a bus ride or a 10-minute walk minimum, which was brutal when it was minus 20 outside.
The neighborhood lacks the quirks that rest of campus has to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. It’s like the guy who didn’t really do anything in high school and only went to college because everybody else does. No ambition, no charm. It just kind of sits there, wanting to be as interesting as everybody else but not really trying.
It also says something that its unofficial landmark is the “Rape Trail,” the forested pathway behind Holmes and McDonel Halls. I haven’t actually heard of any assaults happening there, but it’s still a bit creepy to walk through at night, and it’s pretty much the neighborhood’s only unique feature. How’s that for a bad reputation?
The closest thing East Neighborhood has to a positive landmark where students can gather is the Wharton Center, which is a really wonderful building. But it isn’t actually on neighborhood territory, and I don’t think many of the students that typically inhabit East Neighborhood are going to be too interested in performing arts - try Snyder and Phillips Halls.
East Neighborhood also seems to be the last in line to receive renovations. The cafeterias in East Neighborhood serve decent food, but pale in comparison to the Gallery, South Pointe, the Vista or Brody Square. Of course they give the ugly stepchild neighborhood a new cafeteria last.
Now, my neighborhood isn’t all bad. I’ve met some great friends there and had a lot of fun. Even with its many inconveniences, it’s not a bad place to live. It’s just not as desirable compared to other parts of campus.
I’m sure each neighborhood has its ups and downs. Brody Complex is far from everything and swarming with freshmen, South isn’t as pretty as West Circle, West Circle has older buildings that haven’t been renovated yet and River Trail doesn’t have a Sparty’s in Shaw Hall.
All in all, living in East Neighborhood my freshman year has taught me to appreciate the fact that I’m living in West Circle next year. Wish me luck in my search for the Chamber of Secrets underneath Landon Hall.
Emily Jenks is a State News reporter. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.