Opinion | Champaign reigns supreme over Urbana


Sydney Laput

Assistant opinions editor Talia Duffy argues that Champaign is a better city when it comes to more activities and gives students a city-life, social vibe.

By Talia Duffy, Assistant Opinions Editor

For students at the University of Illinois, it’s easy to forget that Urbana-Champaign isn’t one condensed semi-urban area. Yes, Urbana and Champaign are distinct cities. Even within the University community, the two halves of this whole campus have distinct vibes. They carry their own distinct cultures. And one of them is distinctly better than the other.

So let’s talk about Champaign — it’s the one everyone talks about, anyway.

Maybe I’m biased because I’ve lived on the Champaign side of campus for two years. But honestly, I think that puts me in the best position to talk about its greatness. Besides the nationally ranked academics, all of the attractors for attending the University can be attributed to Champaign.

There’s always so much activity here, making it the perfect town for young adult college students. Late into the night, you’ll still see groups of people walking down Daniel and John streets after a long night of studying together. Most fraternities and sororities are located on the Champaign side of campus, so its atmosphere is naturally more social and involved.

On the weekends, this energy becomes almost tangible: It floats through the air, carrying the sound of music from people’s balconies as they get ready to go to their favorite campus bars — all of which are in Champaign, by the way — or meet their friends at social houses and restaurants. 

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That’s not to say Champaign is always loud and annoying, either. As with most towns, it gets quiet at night, especially during the school week. But while Champaign is quiet when it needs to be, Urbana is quiet — no, make that silent — by default. It’s isolated and sleepy, and at night it feels like the sky swallows every sound. 

OK, that might be a little dramatic, but you get the point. Even during the day, I feel like life moves slower in Urbana.

However, even if you prefer nights at home, watching movies and eating Bangkok Thai over partying, the energetic atmosphere of Champaign contributes to the experience. Simply living in Champaign makes you feel included in the campus community. (Also, you can’t even go to Bangkok Thai without going to Champaign. And I’m not counting the Urbana Bangkok Thai. It’s off-campus, so it basically doesn’t exist.)

Freshmen, too, recognize this difference even before they get to school. The Ikenberry Commons — more commonly known as the six-pack — are the only set of residence halls in Champaign, and they’re largely considered the best on campus. Spots in the six-pack are usually the first to go during housing sign up.

If freshmen are looking to make friends and have the classic dorm experience, Champaign dorms are the way to go. I mean, have you ever met someone glad to be living at FAR? My default response when someone tells me they live there is, “Oh, I’m sorry.” 

Again, Urbana is too removed from everything. In contrast, the glowing high rises and restaurants of Champaign’s Campustown give it a metropolitan feel, so you might forget for a few hours that Champaign is completely, indefinitely surrounded by corn. 

In terms of cities, population is power. That’s especially true in central Illinois, because of the aforementioned corn thing. Champaign’s population totals about 88,000 citizens, which is more than twice the population of Urbana. This makes Champaign the glowing heart of this urban oasis. 

Ultimately, Urbana would be an uninteresting spot on the map without its larger, more contemporary twin city: the amazing, obviously prevailing, far superior Champaign.


Talia is a sophomore in Media.

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