Snow Hall in early January. Photo by Kate Rouse DuHadway/BluePrint Magazine
By Max Parker Dahl
Campus Life Editor
Housing shapes your college experience more than anything else. You may choose very creative means of housing (sleeping at other people’s houses) but the choice remains exigent: where to sleep, where to store stuff and where you feel most comfortable. Roommates are a huge hurdle to pleasant housing, and the steep learning curve prepares students to find a longterm roommate they can stand. It is the “other” education at college outside of the classroom. Ultimately, housing defines who you associate with, your study habits, and your leisure pursuits. Believe me, the people you live with define your semester.
Tolerable people are necessary, but there are more considerations to weigh than accommodating your class schedule. Parking, food, social life, laundry, other amenities–those that begin as perks and end up as essentials–hot tub, laundry, covered parking, etc.
The natural trend in Logan is to begin in the dorms, which brings a subset of drama and luxury unlike any other time in your life. Freshman should be required to survive it. It provides friends, food, security and silliness. The dorms are a relatively safe place to set your own boundaries, and learn to respect those of other people.
“Freshmen, live on campus,” said Carly Vanderhorst. “Because you are resented otherwise. It’s just easy to meet people your freshman year, you have enough to worry about.” Vanderhorst still lives with roommates she met in Snow hall her freshman year.
The people that live in the dorms may be weird, but face it freshman, you are weird. Embrace it, make friends and grow up together.
Erik Wynn had an unconventional freshman experience, living alone in a basement apartment, couch surfing, and later house- and dog-sitting for a professor.
“But the biggest downfall was that I never had that place to call home–it was very unstable,” Wynn remembers of couch surfing. “My grades really suffered because there was no one central location that I could feel extremely comfortable.”
Wynn said he had more than academic issues arise from couch surfing, “One regret I have about not living in the dorms my freshman year is the fact that I didn’t establish those connections that you see on campus with old freshman roommates.”
Once a base friendship is established, peers flock together and move into a “cool” off-campus complex. This will show all those weirdies from the dorms…who move next door. Cars are typically brought into the mix. New issues: Logan parking can be a stiff mistress. Boots. Tickets. And the walk up that icy hill? Don’t get me started.
Friendships deepen and students move into a house, and name it something stupid. I lived in the “old lady furniture and cat” house (which I renamed it “the CatCave”). Public transportation is wonderful. Dealing with the city and grown-up companies for utilities, cable, internet, furniture, decor, etc. is a real pain. Landlords are unnecessarily grumpy. It is a grip of issues that would fry the typical teenage mind. Friendships that were deepened off campus boil and fester as you argue over how the toilet paper is loaded.
Most students (if they miraculously make it past their third year single) find the drive from their house and parking on campus to be a hassle, and move closer to campus. They might even take the despised role as an RA for free rent and food.
If you find a long-term roommate, married housing is enjoyable–despite the prison-aura that Aggie Village exudes. People are nice and a tight community blossoms each semester. So I hear.
Kappa Delta President Kayleigh Shaughnessy lives in one of the sorority houses on campus, and loves the structure that it provides. Utilities are included in the rent, meals are provided by a cook, prime parking and laundry are all perks, but a greater sense of responsibility makes it home. “It stays pretty clean,” Shaughnessy said. “It’s cleaned every day, where in the dorms you don’t have to clean except at check-out. Its cozy, because it’s a house, it’s not a dorm.”
Erik Wynn’s sums up his final thoughts, which I leave with you: “Communication is key to any relationship, even amongst roommates,” Wynn said. “If you can, definitely move in with people you know. If not, occasionally it can be better because you get a chance to meet more people, and really create more friendships at college. Try to experience it all; live in the dorms, live in an apartment, live in a house and see what you like best.”
Editor’s note: BluePrint will be featuring an ongoing series about the perks and downfalls of living both on and off campus. To be part of the series, send a photo or two and a short review (500 words or less) of the good, the bad and the ugly of your living accommodations, to firstname.lastname@example.org.