Incoming freshmen attempt to pay their way out of North Campus housing, find little success

University of Michigan's North Campus

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Saturday, July 29, 2017 - 9:35pm

While many of her future classmates were eager to find fellow students also living in their residence halls at first-year student orientation this past month, LSA freshman Frances Bray was left in the dark.

“Most people that I talked to who had already heard about their housing were on Central Campus or the Hill and no one had heard about being on North, so I assumed they were just going worst to best,” Bray said.

Later, Bray would discover she was to be placed in Bursley Hall on North Campus, a 15- to 20-minute bus ride away from the University of Michigan’s Central Campus, where a majority of classes for first-year students are held.

Currently, University Housing offers 18 different residence halls and apartments for undergraduates to live in during the academic year. While most of these are located on Central Campus or in the Hill Neighborhood, just three are located on North Campus, comprising Baits Houses and Northwood III in addition to Bursley.

After finding out her housing assignment, Bray was one of many taking to social media to find any possible different arrangements for the upcoming year. On a closed Facebook group for incoming first-year students called “University of Michigan Class of 2021,” students placed on North Campus are offering to pay to make the switch to Central Campus.

In an email interview, Bray said after discussing with her family, she was willing to pay upwards of $2,000 to fellow students to move to Central but came up short with students willing to take the offer.

“We decided that we would have been willing to spend $2,500 to switch rooms, I knew it was a long shot and nothing ended up working out,” Bray said.

However, one of Bray’s main concerns with life on North is not the bus ride to Central every day but the inconvenience of the North Campus Recreational Building being closed for the entirety of the 2017-2018 academic year due to renovations.

“The biggest impact I think it will have on my freshman year is not having a rec center that's convenient for me,” Bray said.

In an attempt to not fully remove Recreational Sports from North Campus, a small limited space within Bursley Hall will be temporarily transformed into an exercise space for regular patrons in addition to the over 1,200 students who will be living in Bursley Hall alone.

With so many students seeking to get off of living on North Campus freshman year, Engineering freshman Oliver Li decided to get creative by making an online fundraiser to help get his friend, fellow LSA freshman Mahir Taqbeem, to Central Campus.

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In an email interview, Taqbeem said he was one of the last of his friends to get his housing assignment after they had all found out they’d be living on Central Campus.

“I was waiting pretty long to get my assignment and all my friends got their housing a while ago, so my anticipation was building every day,” Taqbeem said. “I was actually pretty confident that I would get something on Central, and I guess that was my mistake.”

Since most first-year students will be on Central Campus, he feels the social environment on North will be much more unfriendly and spaced apart, fearing he won’t have the same social opportunities as other students.

“I'm worried I won't make as many friends freshman year, but I'm sure I will get over it if I do end up living in north,” Taqbeem said. “I heard that North Campus and Baits II especially were more antisocial.”

With the fall semester less than six weeks away, Taqbeem is rushing to find an alternative option on Central Campus.

“I'm desperate,” Taqbeem said. “To get on to any Central Campus dorm, I would be willing to offer up to $500 plus football season tickets.”

LSA freshman Nina Chiuchiarelli said after waiting for months to receive her housing assignment for the upcoming semester, she began to feel frantic but still believed she wouldn’t be placed in Bursley Hall on North Campus.

“June and July passed, and we still had not received our assignment; I started to get a little frantic, but again never thought of North Campus,” Chiuchiarelli said.

Once receiving her housing placement, Chiuchiarelli said she looked to online reviews of the dorm to learn more about where she’d be living and decided she wanted to switch.

“I will no longer, technically speaking, be moving into U of M's campus, but instead a foreign place two miles away from where all of my classes are,” Chiuchiarelli wrote in an email. “I looked online for maybe two hours after finding out where I would be living this year and every single review was a poor one that discussed the isolation, lack of social life, horrible bus rides, the earlier wake up that each student not in engineering must endure (I have 8 AMs every day and again have no classes on North Campus) and just the simple fact that I do not get to reside with the majority of my peers, or the people that I will be in classes with.”

For LSA freshman Davinder Sekhon, the anticipation of receiving the email for housing assignments was like applying to college all over again.

“Waiting for housing assignment was a bit like waiting for acceptance letters all over again, with Central Campus being like getting accepted and North Campus being rejected,” Sekhon said.

For Sekhon, having to live on North Campus came with a significant negative impact on his first-year experience.

“I guess I always just generally accepted that North Campus was really bad for social life and getting to classes,” he said. “I had really wanted Central Campus because the social aspect of college is a big thing for me.”

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Unlike other freshman placed on North Campus, Sekhon said he has come to terms with living on North and doesn’t feel the need to make any offers to move to Central.

“I think I've just accepted North Campus now and to be honest the more I think about it, the less I come to care about it,” Sekhon said. “Everyone in my group chats for Baits II seem cool and we already have made ourselves a nice community.”