My first day at UNLV ended in disappointment. A transfer student from the University of Arizona, I had decided to return to Las Vegas and live at home. The residential side of UNLV’s campus felt quiet, and Maryland Parkway’s atmosphere didn’t match the vibrancy of Tucson’s University Boulevard. Retreating home to Green Valley, I felt defeated.
But after a recent exploration of the campus and surrounding community, I can see why UNLV is—for the second time ever—boasting at-capacity dormitories this fall, with 1,800 new Rebels (including 1,300 freshmen) moving onto campus this week. That’s about 500 more than in my first year (2007), and double that from my 2010 graduation.
Remnants of the Maryland Parkway I knew are still there, from Coffee Bean to Stephano’s, but the street has been augmented with buzzing eateries, a new Starbucks and an inviting Rebelbooks store. The university has also made campus improvements that are attractive to incoming freshmen, adding new buildings (the stunning Greenspun Hall), updating old ones (a fresh coat of paint on Flora Dungan Humanities, sometimes described as the ugliest building in town) and shifting the main entrance to offer a glimpse of UNLV’s greenery.
The gorgeous Student Union, open during my time as a Rebel, now offers options like Metro Pizza and even a sushi spot for between-class lunch breaks. They are minor adjustments, sure, but things high-school seniors think about when deciding where to live.
UNLV also boasts appealing student-life statistics, from increased Greek system involvement (696 students in 2006 to 1,681 in 2014) to an additional 50 student clubs (added over the last five years) available to those looking to engage. No matter how many different factors sparked this on-campus spike, it’s clear UNLV is starting to shed its commuter-school status, and I’m pleased to see that.