Students perspective of living on campus

The first street residence hall is seen from across the street.

First street residence hall is where first-year students live on campus.

Kaitlyn Bergman, Writer

As student life on campus resumes at the University of Michigan-Flint, students are sharing their thoughts, needs and perspectives about what they need in order to be successful. The question is, though: what issues need to be addressed for students living on campus for them to be reaching their full potential?

All freshmen living on campus are required to purchase a meal plan, and students can use Dining Dollars or Maize money to purchase meals. Rebecca Figura from UM-Flint dining emailed those with a meal plan, nearly eight weeks into the semester, noting how “the meal plan is designed to offer you limited meals each week, and if spent wisely, will take you to the end of term.” 

The fact that meal plans are only meant to cover a portion of meals is not mentioned at student orientation, nor is the fact that students will have to ensure they provide their own meals over the weekend as all dining options on campus, including Picasso Cafe, are closed both Saturday and Sunday. The hours for student dining are challenging as most locations do not open until 10am or 11am, and close by 3pm or 6pm. Monday through Thursday, Clint’s Cafe in the University Center is open from 8am-8pm, and closes at 3pm on Fridays, and by 2pm on Saturdays. Students who take classes in the evening may not be able to hit Picasso Cafe, the primary place to spend dining dollars prior to their expiration at the end of the semester before it closes at 6pm. 

Although there are options for accessible transportation around campus, such as the Safe Ride through the Department of Public Safety and Zipcar rental service, students who cannot provide their own transportation are not able to attend campus events beyond campus bounds, such as student sports. This contributes to a lack of student involvement. Therefore, it’s a good thing that freshmen can have cars, as with a true lack of student life and anything being open, most students chose to travel home or off campus for the weekend.

As students register for their courses, they discover some classes for UM-Flint students are only offered at Mott Community College, making the need for reliable transportation even more apparent. In addition, the excitement for small class sizes is much different when many classes students are required to take are offered only online. 

On the other hand, students who are searching for classes that fit their schedule run into the barrier of their classes only being offered on campus with no virtual equivalent. This is partially due to the size of the University being small. For many students paying to live in dorms, this is not their preference. It is difficult to justify the cost of living on campus when you’re enrolled in credit hours that are virtual. 

The size of the campus, classes and cost are all factors that lure students in. Yet, after reaching out to a group of 16 first-year students living in First Street Residence Hall, six reported their experience this semester being worse than expected, four said as expected, and five said better than expected. When asking these students if they could see one transformation on campus, what is the direst, the majority advocated for either better dining options and hours or more student involvement.

Out of the sixteen students, eight said they felt pride about attending UM-Flint, and eight said that they feel shame. Many of them chose UM-Flint due to financial reasons, which is harder to justify as you begin to factor in students having to fend for their meals and transportation in order to be successful scholars. Many freshmen are considering transferring or dropping out, with five of the sixteen students saying that they have already decided they will not be graduating with a degree from the University of Michigan-Flint. These issues, such as student dining and campus life, contribute to their decision that our University is not their path to becoming successful.