MSU Going Out of the Dorm Business? No.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019, 7:53 am
By: 
Alice Dreger

Above: Hubbard Halls on MSU's Campus

Today’s Ask ELi column focuses on a claim made by one ELi reader which another ELi reader asked us to check. The first reader claimed on Facebook:

"Michigan State University and most college[s] are getting out of the dormitory game. Most universities are switching to apartments. MSU built some apartments near Breslin [1855 Place] but not enough. You will see the majority of traditional dormitory buildings phased out. MSU will be announcing the closure of most of their dorms within the next few years. There's already a huge demand for apartments and as MSU phases out dorms there's going to be more.”

We contacted MSU Vice President Vennie Gore, who oversees residence life buildings (among many other things), to ask if this is true.

Gore responded:

“I am not sure where this reader gets this from. It hasn’t been a discussion of ours.”

Gore (above) added, “As far as the national landscape, many universities and colleges are going back to residence halls from apartments especially for traditional freshmen. There is a need for connection and community building as a transition from high school to college. Non-cognitive skills are important for academic success.”

We can’t find any evidence to contradict what Gore says in terms of MSU’s plan for residence life. We do find that many colleges and universities see on-campus dorms as a means to help students develop social skills and social connections, particularly as they transition from living with parents and attending high school to living with peers and getting a college degree.

Big, national, student-housing developers are increasingly imitating dorms in their new high-rise apartment buildings.

In East Lansing, for example, both The Hub and The Landmark are being designed to have fully furnished apartments, with some bedrooms containing two beds (so that a two-bedroom apartment houses three people).

Core Spaces’ “The Hub,” now under construction on Grand River Avenue at Bogue Street, even has a dedicated webpage “for parents” indicating that the developers’ “goal is to give students a positive college experience while also providing parents and guardians with everything they want from off campus housing near Michigan State University.”

Below: The Hub, under construction, seen from campus.

The ad continues, “This way, students live well in school and parents feel reassured. And because The Hub On Campus East Lansing is located down the street from the university, your student retains a sense of on campus living while also learning to be independent and prepare for success after graduation.”

Site plans for Center City’s The Landmark building even shows plans for group study rooms and a “study lounge,” a computer lab, and a printing center, as shown below.

The Landmark's advertising says it is seeking urban professionals, not just students, but the amenities shown here are certainly reminiscent of a college dorm.

So, off-campus housing in East Lansing seems to be looking more and more like luxury versions of on-campus housing. But that doesn’t mean on-campus dorms are going away any time soon.