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Students discuss isolation on MSU campus over summer months

May 22, 2023
<p>The oldest tree on MSU's campus on a sunny day in 2010. Photo courtesy of MSU Campus Planner Steeve Troost.</p>

The oldest tree on MSU's campus on a sunny day in 2010. Photo courtesy of MSU Campus Planner Steeve Troost.

During the month of May, Michigan State University's campus is a flurry of activity.

CATA buses and classrooms are packed with students cramming for finals week. The Grand River strip is full of people taking advantage of the sun and shopping for summer essentials. Whether it’s Raising Cane’s or Lou Ha’s, you’ll probably see someone that you know waiting in line.

However, as the weeks progress closer to June, the crowds begin to thin. Backpacks are replaced with suitcases, and students clear out of campus.

For students like kinesiology senior Emma Jeffery, staying in East Lansing over the summer can be an adjustment.

“There are definitely less people here,” Jeffery said. “Obviously, a lot of people went home, but there are still a lot of people up here.”

Jeffery, who bartends at a local bar, said the first couple weeks of summer vacation are always a little emptier than usual. She said Memorial Day is usually when the crowds pick up and work gets busier.

Regardless of the students that leave, Jeffery said, campus still isn't lonely. 

“Every single day, there’s something going on," she said. "Either volleyball or pool days or Margarita night or trivia night, there’s something every single night.”

On the other hand, genomics and molecular genetics senior Alex Stevens finds the summer campus to be more isolating. 

“Campus is really quiet,” Stevens said. “I'm in my apartment alone, none of my roommates are here. ... I’ve only seen a couple people on campus right now.”

Stevens added that construction has picked up and filled some of the silence. Shaw Lane, one of the busiest roads on campus, has been temporarily closed, which Stevens said she believes the university does intentionally when students leave for summer break.

Human biology junior Bella Johnson said that especially during school hours, the campus can seem ghostly. She said activities like outdoor games held on Albert Street help reaffirm a sense of Spartan community.

Johnson noted the students that normally bustle around campus have been replaced by a different crowd.

“A lot of the kids from the high schools and middle schools are all around, (and) their parents,” Johnson said. “It’s just a bunch of younger kids running around.”

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