Because they view them as more than a simple living space, NIU prefers to call its dorms "residential halls." It's a nice thought, but dorm rooms don't compare all that favorably to jail cells-they are small and cramped, and you are stuck with your roommates whether you like them or not. Most freshmen end up in Grant, which hasn't been properly updated since it was built in the 1960s, and things only get worse when extreme temperatures make living very uncomfortable. The kind janitorial staff is often abused by vandals or students who simply don't clean up after themselves. As a result, the bathrooms can get nasty, and students end up paying floor fines to clean up vandalism they did not commit.
NIU requires all freshmen to live on campus, but you could call it a necessary evil because dorm life forces new students to break out of their shells and meet new people, which is essential to a positive experience at NIU. You can tell how cool your floor will be by the percentage of students who keep their doors open-closed doors are a bad sign-but no matter what, you will end up making some of your best friends and worst enemies on your floor. At the very least, every dorm has a computer lab and dining hall, and the Residence Hall Association does an excellent job of programming events and looking out for the needs of students.