All Rams Should Be Fans of McMahon

Apartment-style living in McMahon Hall is ideal for all students, regardless of their class year



The Plaza entrance to the McMahon Hall. Apartments in McMahon that overlook the interior of the campus compose “the fishbowl.”


My first year of college was anything but ordinary. First of all, I started during the pre-vaccine era of a global pandemic. Then, as my remote fall 2020 semester wrapped up, I decided to transfer to Fordham University. I knew that I was unhappy at my former school, and since the university had no plans of resuming in-person education for the spring 2021 semester, I hoped I could get a second chance at my first-year experience. 

As I prepared for my do-over first semester, I was a little disappointed to open my email and discover that my housing assignment was in McMahon Hall, the residence hall that houses primarily upper-level students, rather than the first-year student-dominated McKeon Hall. McMahon seemed perfectly fine, but from what I’d heard from current students, McKeon was a recently built dorm with gorgeous views that helped first-year students get to know one another and adjust to college life together. I tried to make the best of it and hoped there would be other new students in my apartment, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit of FOMO. 

I soon discovered that I had nothing to fear, as I was assigned to a fantastic apartment where I was able to meet plenty of new people and form new friendships. Although I have never lived in (or even been in) McKeon Hall, I can say with absolute certainty that McMahon Hall’s apartment-style living is the better housing option for first-years and older students alike. While less traditional than most first-year residence experiences, McMahon Hall gives students the opportunity to escape the bubble of dorm life and fully experience what living in the city is like.  

The Joy of Cooking

The biggest pro to living in McMahon is having your own kitchen. Although there is a shared kitchen in McKeon, this experience in no way compares to having a kitchen of your own. 

Each McMahon kitchen includes a full-size refrigerator, sink and an oven with a stovetop. You and your roommates may need to invest in some cooking utensils and kitchen appliances (pots and pans, microwave, toaster, coffee machine, etc.), but that’s based on your preference. You can bring your own mini-fridge and microwave to a McKeon dorm if you would like, but these items are no substitute for a full, personal kitchen. Maybe the only dish you’ve perfected so far is a bowl of Frosted Flakes, but you will soon realize just how essential a kitchen is when you have to rely on expensive take-out dinners and your school’s cafeteria for every meal. 

More important than having your own kitchen is being exempt from Fordham’s meal plan. McKeon residents are required to purchase a meal plan, whereas McMahon students have the option of buying one. As a new student, you may think that it is easier to just get a meal plan, especially if you don’t want to worry about grocery shopping and cooking, but you will soon discover that the dining options at Fordham are less than popular among students. 

McMahon is by no means glamorous, but for a college apartment in New York, it doesn’t get much better.

I bought a meal plan for my first year of living in McMahon and canceled it shortly after purchasing my first meal. I never ate on campus again. Sure, the food is technically edible, but when you have a full kitchen at your disposal, it’s better to save the money on a meal plan and put it toward grocery shopping. 

A busy college schedule can leave students exhausted, and it is likely that you will not have the energy to cook every day of the week. Even if you don’t plan on cooking a five-course meal after a long day of classes, there are plenty of easy meal options at your disposal, such as quick, pre-made meals at any local grocery store (consider Whole Foods’ endless hot bar or the hundreds of frozen options offered at Trader Joe’s). You can also give meal-prepping a try by cooking larger portions of multiple meals when you have extra time and reheating them throughout the week. 

A Home, Not a Dorm

Another pro of living in a full-sized apartment is that McMahon dorms are built with common areas, whereas McKeon dorms are not. Each dorm has a living and dining room area that is fully furnished by the school with a dining room table and chairs, two coffee tables of different sizes, a couch and several other living room chairs depending on how many roommates you have. While most of the furniture looks as though it has been used by McMahon residents since the dorm was first opened in 1993, you won’t have to worry about buying or moving furniture into your apartment. 

Although you technically have more roommates in each McMahon apartment than in a McKeon dorm, most students will still have one or two roommates in their actual bedrooms: individual McMahon bedrooms come in single, double and, depending on incoming class size, forced triple configurations. You can still spend time with your other roommates or any friends you invite over in your apartment’s common area. This allows you to have your own, private space while still being able to hang out with friends in your home, unlike in a McKeon dorm, in which your limited space for entertaining is also your bedroom, dining room and workspace. 

Most McMahon apartments that I have lived in or visited have been fairly sized (or even large in New York City terms). To be fair, I have only lived in corner apartments in McMahon (specifically, the B, M and H configurations), and others who have lived in other rooms may feel differently. While every apartment has its own quirks, such as the occasional small bedroom or closet and eerily stained furniture, most would agree that for their location, McMahon apartments are some of the nicest apartments that most students will ever live in in New York. 

McMahon is by no means glamorous, but for a college apartment in New York, it doesn’t get much better.  

Getting the Best View

McKeon is known for offering students gorgeous views of the city that most students will likely never be able to afford once moving off campus. Even though I strongly believe that McMahon is the better option, I can admit that the view from McKeon is far better than anything you will get in McMahon. While the view from the majority of apartments in McMahon is not worth writing home about, your position in the building, and subsequent view, can vary. 

I have had a variety of views while living in McMahon, ranging from the entire westernmost wall of Lowenstein to the inside of living rooms of next-door luxury apartments and even the Empire State Building. While it can be difficult to predict what your view will be based on your room assignment, it generally helps to be on a higher floor in an apartment with a view facing the street.

The apartments facing the plaza, colloquially known as “the fishbowl” since you can clearly see into other students’ rooms, have a less exciting but still comforting view of the school you call home. While your view is much more of a gamble if you choose to live outside of the fishbowl, you might just get lucky and have a gorgeous view of the city (that admittedly still does not compare to the views in McKeon). 

An Alternative to Traditional College Living

Most students have a clear idea of what their college dorm room should look like: a tiny cinder block room holding two, 10-foot-high beds on opposite sides of the room with a long row of bathrooms down the hall shared by an entire floor. Although living in McKeon is a more glamorous version of what most students imagine dorm living to be like, it still caters to the traditional image that many college students think they need to have when entering this next phase of their life. 

If you are a first-year student living in McMahon, you may feel like I did when I first got my housing assignment. You might be a little disappointed that you’ll never have a “traditional” college dorming experience. But let’s face it, if you decided to attend college in the middle of Manhattan, you already aren’t getting the traditional college experience. If you are not originally from the city, it may feel strange to be going to school on a tiny campus in a major metropolis, when the majority of your friends are probably attending school on a sprawling, green campus in a suburban or rural area. However, going to college in the city will give you an exciting and unique college experience that you hopefully will enjoy to the fullest!

Living in New York City is a fantastic opportunity that many can only dream of. Living in a spacious apartment rather than a traditional cramped dorm takes it up a notch. Take it from someone who never lived in McKeon: You do not need to live in McKeon to have a great first year in college. 

While McKeon offers sweeping views of the city and is a freshly renovated dorm that gives students a more traditional college lifestyle, McMahon offers a much more inviting layout, more privacy and more independence (especially with cooking). Part of me will always wonder what would have been different if I’d lived in McKeon, but ultimately, I am happy to have had the opportunity to live in McMahon, Fordham’s best dorm.