Saginaw Valley State University has earned the 2019 “best dorms” ranking, thanks to students’ praise for the welcoming environment and outstanding facilities.
SVSU is like home for Ty'Shawn Short. The scent of chicken and shrimp alfredo that often permeates his on-campus residence is one of the many reminders of that fact. Much to his delight, that same aroma often filled his nostrils back at his family's house in Detroit.
“I love to cook,” he said, “and they give you a big stove and oven when you move here. There's so much room. You can't beat it.”
Not many higher institutions can compete with SVSU's residential student environment, according to a website ranking the best on-campus housing environments in the nation. In its Best College Dorms in America ranking, Niche placed SVSU No. 1 among public universities and No. 8 overall in the nation.
SVSU has consistently rated among the national leaders in both categories since 2015.
Niche calculates its rankings using a weighted formula where 70 percent of a school's score comes from students' satisfaction with their housing, as well as data from the U.S. Department of Education. Niche evaluated the residential environment of 1,370 colleges and universities nationwide in its 2019 rankings.
“The facts don't lie,” said Short, a criminal justice major and residential assistant, about SVSU's high rating. “You have everything you need if you're living here.”
For students such as Short, that type of welcoming, friendly environment is invaluable. With a comfortable setting that includes first-rate facilities and an active campus life environment, the junior said he has less reason to return often to Detroit when in need of his creature comforts. Many of those comforts are available inside his residence hall room or within walking distance of the residence.
“I can play basketball or football intramural games or study late at the library on campus, and just walk back to my place when I'm done,” he said.
Michele Gunkelman, SVSU's director of residential life, said SVSU's housing facilities possesses another secret ingredient: a residential student population empowered to create a supportive and fun campus community for itself.
“This is what makes the SVSU residential experience stand out from other institutions in our state and beyond,” she said.
Jocelynn Fair, a double major in psychology and political science from Au Gres, is enjoying her second year residing on campus. She now works as a residential assistant, supporting other on-campus students.
“I tell people all the time, 'Campus life at SVSU has changed my life,'” she said. “Being so close to all the students and all the student activities made me feel like SVSU had a place for me.”
The relatively modest size of SVSU's campus means she is never far from friends or classrooms. The on-campus presence of popular eateries such as Starbucks, Panda Express and Subway mean students have less reason to venture far from home. Free screenings of recently-released movies are a hit with many students, she said. And more than 200 registered student organizations cater to a variety of interests. Fair is a vice president of one of those groups and a member of another.
“And the laundry here is free,” she said. “That always helps.”
For the 2018-19 academic year, SVSU's residence halls are filled to capacity, housing 2,450 students.