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MSU students weigh decision to stay on campus over winter break

December 14, 2023
Freshman Joshua DSouza walks around central campus on Dec. 11, 2023. During winter break, DSouza plans to stay in the dorm and go to the gym.
Freshman Joshua DSouza walks around central campus on Dec. 11, 2023. During winter break, DSouza plans to stay in the dorm and go to the gym.

With winter break rapidly approaching and finals coming to an abrupt end, Michigan State students have the opportunity to travel back home to meet family and friends for holidays. This three-week break provides a relaxing non-working month for students to gather themselves and prepare for the second semester. 

Though, for some students, traveling back home from East Lansing can be an expensive, troubling or an inconvenient trip. This has led some students to stay on campus instead.

For international student and computer science freshman Joshua Dsouza, the trip back to his hometown in Mumbai, India would just be too "pointless."

"It doesn't make sense for me to go back home right now," Dsouza said. "A lot of my family's going on vacation to visit another country itself. Plus, if you think of it, summer break is a lot longer than winter break, so I would rather just go back during the summer than waste my time going back in the winter."

Dsouza said the weather also plays a factor in his decision to stay on campus. Dsouza said that if he went home, Mumbai would be "too hot" for his liking, and the transition from cold weather to hot weather, back to cold weather, would not be pleasant. 

But the choice to stay has some downsides.

"Leaving my family is something I'm gonna miss," Dsouza said. "Also, as a Christian, my family and I are pretty big into Christmas, so it's hard to not be with them during this time of year. Yet, staying on campus is something that I think would be best for me."

Associate Director for Communications in Residence Education and Housing Services Bethany Balks said that Dsouza is one of the 400 anticipated students currently selecting winter break housing. 

MSU will provide these students with the necessary resources to comfortably stay here. Balks said the MSU dorms will remain open for any resident that has completed the winter break housing form, and is at liberty to stay in their own room during break. 

This winter break housing form can be found on the LiveOn website under the "my housing" option. 

Along with the dorms being open to confirmed residents, MSU service centers are open during the day time hours, the RA on duty line is still available for emergency needs every night from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and both IM West and IM East will remain open, Balks said. 

As for the dining halls, Associate Director of Marketing & Communications for MSU’s Culinary Services Cheryl Berry said dining operations will look different due to the lack of students on campus. 

Starting on the Dec. 16, all dining halls except for Brody Square will close, Berry said. Brody Square will be open to residents through Dec. 22, before closing down for the university holiday schedule, then reopening on Jan. 2. 

This "university holiday" is a chance to give faculty and staff a break from operations, Balks said. This means that the university and all its buildings will close from Dec. 23 to Jan. 2. 

For psychology freshman Chloe Raiber, the large number of closed buildings has left her undecided on whether she should stay on campus or head back to her hometown in Arcade, New York. 

"I’m still undecided if I should go back home or not," Raiber said. "If I stay, I know campus activities are going to be restricted, meaning I’ll be bored and probably all alone, but if I go home, it's where I’ll probably be happiest."

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Along with some of the closed buildings, Raiber also pointed out that all of the 30 buses for the CATA transportation system won’t run over break, which she occasionally uses to get around campus. 

Like Dsouza, Raiber is also a part of the Christian faith, and not being with her family during Christmas would hurt her, she said. Yet, it’s the financial decision that is really forcing Raiber's hand. 

"I think a plane ticket right now is around 400 dollars, and as a person paying a lot of money for out-of-state tuition, it’s something that I’m not really sure if I want to pay for," Raiber said. "I miss my family already, but this is just a smart way to conserve money, so we’ll see."

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