MSU Will Require Sophomores to Live On-Campus Starting in 2022

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Raymond Holt for ELi

A Sparty statue stands on the roof of The Hub, a private student-focused apartment building on Bogue Street, just off MSU's campus.

Michigan State University will require second-year as well as first-year students to live on campus starting in 2022, according to Sue Webster, Community Liaison for the university.

The move is likely to have a major impact on the economy of East Lansing, particularly in the areas of housing, retail groceries, and restaurants.

The plan was conveyed in an online presentation this morning led by Webster, MSU Senior Vice President for Residential and Hospitality Services Vennie Gore, and Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Mark Largent.

The MSU team presented statistics showing that educational outcomes are greatly improved, particularly for students from some particularly vulnerable populations, when sophomores live on campus.

Today’s presentation was attended by a number of the big private landlords in East Lansing. What wasn’t addressed, we are told by one person who watched, was the financial motivation MSU is likely feeling for this move.

Asked to confirm the substance of the presentation, Webster did so and further explained to ELi that MSU has had a “policy on the books” for years requiring freshmen and sophomore to live on campus. But the policy “was waived for second year students beginning in the 1980s.”

Webster said that “over the past ten years, MSU has been developing and piloting a series of student success measures to fully support all students. By reinstating the second year live-on requirement and combining it with strategic programming, MSU believes it can further increase student persistence and graduation.”

MSU has invested significant sums in the development and operation of on-campus housing, but in the last few years big new off-campus housing projects have eaten away at the university’s ability to successfully market its on-campus residences.

Raymond Holt for ELi

A model room at The Hub, where rooms come furnished and amenities include in-room washers and driers, a rooftop pool, and “study rooms.”

In just the last two years, East Lansing has seen the opening of The Hub (on Bogue Street), The Landmark (Center City District), and The Abbot (near Beggar’s Banquet), all steps away from the MSU campus and featuring modern apartments with student-oriented amenities. The new “University Edge” apartments across Michigan Avenue from Frandor are due to open next year, also targeted at MSU undergraduates.

The impact on East Lansing’s economy is likely to be significant. A typical incoming MSU class includes over 8,000 people, and by their sophomore year, many have elected to live off-campus where they consume goods and services from private companies that in turn pay property tax and income tax to the City and other local taxing jurisdictions.

Many older near-campus houses like this one in the Bailey neighborhood have been converted over the years to house groups of students, shaping the economy and everyday life of East Lansing.

The change could also have a significant cultural impact on the life of the city, particularly in off-campus fraternities and sororities and student-heavy neighborhoods.

The City of East Lansing has recently commissioned a housing study to understand better the supply, demand, and trends in housing for all age groups. That study is being conducted by Sharon Woods of LandUseUSA. 

Woods, speaking to the East Lansing Housing Commission in October 2020, said the study is likely to be completed early in 2021. 

Correction: An earlier version of this article said the change requiring second-year students to live on campus would come in 2020. It is happening in 2022.

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