Choosing to live off Grounds is a smarter decision that gives students more freedom
For various socio-aesthetic reasons I have resided in hermitage on Jefferson Park Avenue since the end of my first year. Here I have hibernated through winters and reclined through summers – which you can’t do living on Grounds – in aloneness, enjoying that view you can only get in an off-Grounds apartment: of the real world. I am part of the “58 percent” of students living off Grounds who know on-Grounds housing just sucks.
What on-Grounds accommodations do like to boast is proximity. This is hardly true: Lambeth is kind of close, Bice at the dead end of Brandon, and have fun busing to whatever the rest are called. The nearest on-Grounds locations – Brown College, the language houses, the International Residential College and also the Lawn – are pretentious enough to demand applications, unwittingly screening out those who demand hospitality not contingent on niche. Walking the Lawn arcade, I see fourth years rocking in chairs and can’t help but think the University’s best and brightest, or at least most ambitious, have taken the emperor’s robes. Take a small room, add a bunk bed and call it “prestigious” and look who all will apply – and no, I would never.
At least on-Grounds living is cheaper. But the University itself admits that prices can be equally competitive on- and off-Grounds, especially as an on-Grounds apartment could require you to put things in storage for summer if you don’t live in-state. What off-Grounds apartments do offer – in terms of cost, location and people – is choice.
On-Grounds housing agents infiltrate first-year dorms in the fall and demand sign-ups from November to February. Even if you do take the gambit for another year on-Grounds, you are assigned a room and roommates based on a lottery. With an off-Grounds lease, you sign-up when you want to live where you want with whom you want, with many more options besides.
Everything comes ready in an on-Grounds apartment. There are utilities and “furniture.” There is a residence staff to remind you of the rules when you break them, to pour out your drinks when you drink them, to stamp out your drugs when you toke – only to go do these themselves. The comparison of on-Grounds housing to an institutional complex is too easy to make. No one is confining you to these facilities, though: These prisons are there for the leaving.
Living off-Grounds (re: in-life) is chaotic in the ways of the night. There is vomit and crime; there is noise, relentless until it is quiet. There is distance between roommates and neighbors; there are mountains between you and the school. Unlike resident advisors, landlords only check-in for your money. This is terrestrial anonymity – you may as well no longer be a University student, but just another person in a building, the room empty save what you bring to it, a tenant paying on borrowed time – this is the real world. Or at least a young version.
Aaron Eisen is the Executive Editor of The Cavalier Daily.