Thursday, March 23, 2023

Neighborhood Showdown: Where is the best place to live on campus?

October 27, 2022
Williams Hall on March 25, 2019.
Williams Hall on March 25, 2019. —
Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

For on-campus students, where you live can make or break your year. 

Dorm living can be contentious, cramped in a hotel-room-sized living space. Despite this, being surrounded by thousands of students in a similar situation can create a sense of community. 

With five neighborhoods to choose from, Michigan State University students have strong feelings about one of the more widely debated topics on campus: which neighborhood is the best and why.

East Neighborhood 

East Neighborhood is an eclectic community space. Hugging the northeast corner of campus, the neighborhood includes Akers, Holmes and Hubbard Halls. It is also home to the Wharton Center, IM East and the Business College Complex. Dining options include The Edge at Akers and Holmes Dining Hall. 

The neighborhood is characterized by the iconic MSU frat party song, "First Day Out" by rapper Tee Grizzley, in which he shouts out Hubbard Hall – his dorm when he attended MSU. 

Lyman Briggs sophomore Autumn Shook, who lives in West Holmes, she felt removed from the rest of campus.

“I was in Lyman Briggs and (East) was nice in the sense (that) most of my classes were in the building that I was living in," Shook said. 

Shook said eating at Akers' dining hall was one of the worst aspects, compared to the better meals offered at Brody or Shaw. 

South Neighborhood

South Neighborhood is known for housing athletes, sports fans and James Madison College students. Situated on the southwest side of campus, there are four dorms to choose from: Case, Wilson, Wonders and Holden Halls. Students can dine at South Pointe at Case and pick up a snack from two Sparty's Refreshes or Holden Hall’s grab-n-go option. 

Mechanical engineering sophomore Sydney Dillon chose to live in South Neighborhood for both her freshman and sophomore year. 

"I have truly enjoyed my experience here, as I am close to gym and workout facilities like IM West, as well as sports arenas like Munn Ice Arena, the Breslin Center and Spartan Stadium," Dillon said in an email. "I also love being close to other STEM majors – it is a community.”

While South Pointe isn’t her favorite, Dillon said the dining hall still has good options occasionally.

“I think South is better than other neighborhoods because it offers a wide variety of people and unique things to do," Dillon said in an email. "In the South Neighborhood, you can design your own meal with Holden's make-your-own pasta or quesadilla bar." 

A five-minute walk from sports centers, Dillon said it’s the perfect place for active students.

Political science prelaw sophomore Abbey Apple also prefers that the suite-style dorms don’t have community bathrooms. 

“I was kind of grossed out at the idea of having community bathrooms when I could clean the bathroom myself when I got (to South)," Apple said. 

Brody Neighborhood 

Tucked away on its own corner of campus, Brody Neighborhood is known for feeling like its own community. Brody is the newest collection of dorms at MSU.

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Brody consists of Rather, Armstrong, Bryan, Bailey, Butterfield and Emmons Halls. The neighborhood has only one dining hall and one Sparty's in Brody Square, yet it is considered one of the best dining halls on campus. 

To political science prelaw sophomore Ryan Weingarden, the community aspect of Brody is what makes it superior. While walking through the neighborhood, you can regularly find students participating in a game of volleyball outside. 

Weingarden was happy to have a community style bathroom so he didn't have to clean it. He also loved how easy it was to go out at night, with Grand River Avenue being a short walk away. Weingarden said the rest of campus feels distant but the dining hall compensates for this.

Pre-nursing sophomore Alexis Johnson has lived in Brody for two years, deciding to stay for the luxury of bigger dorms and better community spaces. She said that while it is a long trek to some places, Brody has some of the best access to transportation. 

“A lot of people think it's far from things, but it's not as bad to me because there's a bus stop right outside my dorm, so it's easy to get on if I wanted to hit downtown or anything on campus to get to my classes," Johnson said. 

Johnson said she has met many great people in Brody – forming bonds with not just college peers, but also custodial and food staff.

River Trail Neighborhood 

River Trail Neighborhood is parked closely to the nature trail that cuts through campus and faces the Red Cedar River. It brings the scenery of campus right to the students' windows.

McDonel, Owen, Shaw and Van Hoosen Halls comprise River Trail Neighborhood. The Vista in Shaw and Thrive at Owen both keep the students fed, but most dorms are within a short walking distance of the International Center, the Wells Hall Starbucks and the Minskoff Pavilion Panera Bread. 

Noelle Chan is a resident assistant, or RA, for East Shaw Hall. She loves the community she has made in the neighborhood, the location’s scenery and the amenities. Chan also said while she is not super close to off-campus activities, she is in prime location to get Panera combos – a commodity at a much larger price. 

With her RA experience, Chan likes the diverse options for students to accommodate their needs. 

“River Trail is the most diverse in terms of the housing options because you've got the community styles (in Shaw)," Chan said. "You have the suite styles in McDonel. You have singles in Owen and ... Van Hoosen is like shared rooms, it's like an apartment.” 

North Neighborhood 

North Neighborhood, being the oldest and largest on campus, boasts gothic architecture. It also has the most open spaces for nature, making it the best place to sit for a picnic or see the fall leaves change colors. 

North holds the most residential halls, including Mason-Abbott, Snyder-Phillips, Mary Mayo, Gilchrist, Yakeley, Williams, Landon and Campbell Halls. The dining options include The Gallery at Snyder-Phillips, Heritage Commons at Landon and the only current late-night option on campus, the MSU Union Food Court. 

Social work junior Ava Ballagh said North Neighborhood is superior because of its proximity to Grand River Avenue. She also loves the ambiance and architecture.

“It's the prettiest side of campus and has all the pretty trees and all the old buildings," Ballagh said. 

Ballagh also rooted for The Gallery as the best dining option on campus. While she said that the rooms in Mason were a bit smaller, she said location takes the cake – making North Neighborhood the best place to live.


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