Ah, dorm life.
For some folks, living in a residence hall is pleasant. It puts you closer to classes on campus. If you indulge in buying a meal plan, you’re guaranteed the option of endlessly pigging out at any of the number of food eateries at MSU. You can easily walk, bike and bus to a variety of places not only on campus, but also to locations in East Lansing and other surrounding areas.
But for other people, the thought of being confined to a residence hall is less than stellar. If you have a car, paying to park on campus while living in a residence hall could burn a rather unfortunate hole in your pocket. Perhaps you’d rather find freedom living in your own apartment with your peers, not the possibility of ending up in a dorm with an wacky roommate. Maybe you just don’t like the living conditions of a dorm, or the fact that living on campus costs a pretty penny.
The State News broke down what we believe are the best — and yes, the worst — residence halls of each of MSU’s five neighborhoods, according to factors like distance from classes, proximity to the best dining halls, amenities offered by each hall and more.
Brody Neighborhood consists of six residence halls: Armstrong, Bailey, Bryan, Butterfield, Emmons and Rather. Let’s just say that Brody Neighborhood is the Titanic of MSU’s residence halls, in that it is gigantic and sprawling.
Best: Rather Hall
Brody Neighborhood is a high school geometry teacher’s dream. The neighborhood consists of the six aforementioned halls above, which are all laid out symmetrically around a central building that’s appropriately named Brody Square. In reality, it’s difficult to choose the best and worst of the six halls. They’re all equal in a sense — they’re of similar walking distance from Brody Square, which contains a massive dining hall and Sparty’s.
However, Rather Hall one-ups the other five, namely because it’s the only hall with a campus bus stop directly in front of it. Brody Neighborhood might contain one of the best dining halls, and its dormitories might have some of the most spacious rooms on campus, but it definitely does not bode well in terms of distance from the center of the university. Unless you like walking for 10 minutes to get on campus and walking for up to 40 minutes to get across campus, it’d do well for those in Brody to buy a bus pass.
Worst: Any of the other five halls besides Rather Hall
You might be thinking, “Wait, what? How can you say that all five halls in Brody, besides Rather, aren’t good?”
It isn’t that these halls are terrible — they’re certainly not in terms of living, as several of them are newly renovated. Rather Hall cements itself as the best of the six, thanks to its proximity to a bus stop. But given the fact that Brody Neighborhood is on one end of campus, the halls within it are not close to the center of MSU at all. In short, that means a long walk, a tiresome bike ride or hitching a ride on a jam-packed 31 CATA bus to most classes. Though food options are plentiful for these residence halls, even walking to Grand River Avenue can feel like a significant distance.
And if you happen to have a class in East Neighborhood? If you plan on walking there, be sure to set aside an extra 40 minutes so you can scramble to make it on time.
Harry Potter fans, rejoice — MSU’s North neighborhood is large and picturesque, with many of its residence halls reminiscent of one well-known school of wizardry. Hogwarts — I mean, North Neighborhood — consists of Abbot, Campbell, Gilchrist, Landon, Mayo, Phillips, Snyder, Williams and Yakeley halls.
Best: Snyder-Phillips Hall
Snyder Hall and Phillips Hall are two separate halls, but they’re connected into one building. Together they’re abbreviated as “Snyder-Phillips” or “Sny-Phi.” Snyder-Phillips houses students in MSU’s Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, so if you choose to live there, you might be bunking with an artsy or musically-inclined roommate. Think that sounds pretty interesting? According to MSU’s LiveOn website, Phillips Hall offers an art studio, a theatre for performing arts studio and a music practice room.
Snyder-Phillips also contains The Gallery, hailed as one of the best dining halls on campus for its menu and its late-night dining options. By living in Snyder-Phillips, you’ll also get access to a fitness center, a decent Sparty’s and Grand River Avenue, which is just a short walk away and bustles with activity. A stellar cafeteria, good location on campus and multiple building features elevates Snyder-Phillips to the title of best residence hall in North Neighborhood.
Worst: Gilchrist Hall
It’s difficult trying to choose which residence hall is the worst in North Neighborhood. All of the halls in North have a certain aesthetic of nostalgia to them, as they were the first dorms built at Michigan Agricultural College. The outward appearance of these residence halls is something to admire, but there is more to them than meets the eye. Still, some lack the amenities of the others.
That’s the case with Gilchrist Hall, which is attached to Yakeley Hall. But unlike Yakeley, Gilchrist is smaller and offers no special building features. If you want to live in North Neighborhood, opt to live in Landon for its dining hall, Heritage Commons, and its proximity to the Union’s late night menu. You could even opt to live in Mayo Hall for its recent renovations instead, and I write that knowing very well of the rumors the dorm is is haunted.
Overall, South Neighborhood is a great place to live in your early years at MSU. It is perfect for sports fans because it is so close to sports centers such as Munn Ice Arena, IM Sports-West, Spartan Stadium and the Breslin Center. South campus is composed of four residence halls: Case, Holden, Wilson and Wonders.
Best: Holden Hall
Out of all the dorms in south campus, Holden Hall takes the top spot. Holden Hall has a dining hall open five days a week, a good sized Sparty’s, an engagement center, a free workout room, a dance hall and a game room. Everything you could ever want is there.
You might be thinking, what about Case? For James Madison College students, this place is heaven. The best thing about it for every other student is the food. South Pointe dining hall is great. They have several stations, so you can get almost any food that you crave. It’s open seven days a week and for late night on weekends. But, other than the dining hall, students outside of James Madison are left with less to desire. Holden offers all the perks, and then some, for every student.
Worst: Wilson Hall
Last, and the least, is Wilson. Mainly, the only thing Wilson is good for is the late night the dining hall serves every weeknight. Its pasta station is popping, but other than that, Wilson only has study lounges that are extremely hot in the summer, and the Hive, which is basically a hi-tech study lounge with a projector, computers and wipe boards.
River Trail Neighborhood
River Trail is an interesting and beautiful neighborhood to live in at MSU. River Trail is composed of four halls: Owen, Van Hoosen, McDonel and Shaw. This neighborhood is a bit different than other neighborhoods on campus though because Van Hoosen and Owen are only open to upperclassmen, which means junior status and up.
Best: Owen Hall
When ranking these halls, Owen is by far the best. It is sleek, new, colorful and artsy. Inside Owen, there is a larger Sparty’s and a dining hall a breed all its own. The dining hall has a menu, and you can order from a counter and the food is made for you on the spot. There is also a salad bar and a Garden Express for a vegetarian option. The dining room had a patio that goes out into the courtyard facing the Baker Woodlot, and inside there is a ton of seating and a large wall window that also looks out into the woodlot.
In the basement of Owen is where the fun starts, literally. The media and game room has a pool table, ping pong table, and a foosball table, along with a movie area with a T.V. and a large couch. Also in the basement is a full kitchen students can rent out. The kitchen has a full fridge, oven, two microwaves, and granite countertops. Not as fun, but still important are five private study rooms with full wall white boards.
Worst: Van Hoosen Hall
This dorm is nothing like any dorm on campus. The apartment-style residence hall is for women only, with a grade-point average of 2.2 or above. For all its unique qualities, maybe it shouldn't be on this list, but all is fair in love and rankings.
Van Hoosen is more like a grandmother's house mixed with a motel than a college dorm. First of all, only residents can enter the the building. Once inside, there is a dining area with a couple tables and a T.V. room with a large T.V, couches and a foosball table. On each side of the building, there are lines of dorms that run parallel toward the forest area with a courtyard in between. It doesn't have a dining hall, and residents who live there can opt into a meal plan. For those who do, they have an equally decent walk to either Shaw or Sny-Phi for breakfast before class.
Much like Brody Neighborhood, East Neighborhood is situated entirely on one side of campus. It consists of just three student residence buildings: Holmes, Akers and Hubbard halls. It’s a definite trek into the void to get to these dormitories — so much that buying a semester-long bus pass never looked better.
Best: Akers Hall
It’s difficult deciding which of these three residence halls comes out on top. There is no clear winner here, but one hall manages to hold a slight edge against the other two. That’s Akers Hall, namely because it is the only residence hall at MSU that offers students the option to live in a quad room, meaning four female or four male students can opt to live in a larger, two-room dorm together. Perhaps four people in the same living space at the same time might give some students claustrophobia, but for others, a quad room is especially great for a group of friends who like to be social.
Akers also has a recently-remodeled, fully-functioning cafeteria contained within it. The Edge operates from 7 a.m. to midnight on a regular basis, making it the most easily accessible cafeteria in East Neighborhood. Holmes dining hall and the now-defunct Hubbard dining hall, may she rest in peace, have nothing in comparison to The Edge’s size and hours of operation.
Worst: Hubbard Hall
Each hall has its pros and cons, but Hubbard Hall earns the title of worst residence hall in East Neighborhood. It’s situated on the very edge of campus in a wasteland of parking lots and few trees. If the cars driving down Hagadorn Road don’t keep you awake at night, the whistles from the trains that run along the tracks on the southeastern edge of campus certainly will. Hubbard is also quite large with a north hall and a south hall of 12 stories each. It’s a place for the university to stick unsuspecting freshmen who have no knowledge of how to use LiveOn to select a dorm.
Luckily, there are three redeeming factors for those who end up in the Tower of Terror that is Hubbard Hall: suite bathrooms, proximity to The Edge cafeteria at Akers and, best of all, a Sparty’s Cafe that arguably serves the best chicken tenders to be found on campus.