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Opinion

Living situations should be decided on by students

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November 13, 2008

Living in the dorms is the most influential time for a new college student. The student has a new opportunity to meet all different kinds of people, engage in various activities and be placed in an environment where everyone else is in the same situation. You are not alone.

During my freshman year of college I experienced things that I would have never experienced at my hometown or if I had lived off-campus. Being away from the jurisdiction of my parents for the first time was incredibly liberating. As soon as the school year was over I knew that those days were over and that they should be in the past where they belong. It was time to move away from the dorms.

That experience was at a different university. Unlike most universities, UW-River Falls demands sophomore students to live on-campus. They will throw all sorts of studies that show that it may improve student life and cause more academic success. But shouldn’t students also have the opportunity of learning how to manage on their own, the real-life education?

Sophomore year I moved off-campus into a house with five other friends. It was chaos. Our slumlord screwed naive college students over with a garbage-filled attic, leaky ceilings and a squirrel problem in the basement. The six of us had to learn how to pay the bills fairly, how to kick out unwanted party-goers and how to deal with the city rather than a Resident Assistant. It was all worth it.

If I had lived on-campus that year I would not have learned the how to deal with con artists or irrational people. One must make that conscious decision to not pay the rent if the water heater has been broken for a month and to stop crack heads from using in your living room.

UWRF should not require second-year students to live on-campus in overflowing residence halls. Students in the dorms should be able to use their study lounge on their floor, but instead it is filled with students that are forced to live in even smaller quarters. Some RAs even have roommates, which should be against policy. RAs should have their own room that doubles to also be like an office for their residents to come and feel safe in privacy.

If students do not want to live in the dorms any longer at UWRF, it is ridiculously difficult for students to get out of a forced contract. One must send numerous appeal letters to persuade the Res. Director that they are not fit to live in the dorms. The same applies for the dining services contract, which is also required for on-campus residents.

Shouldn’t the student be making the decision about where he/she wants to live? Shouldn’t they have a say about what they eat? The University forces people of a particular education level to live there. That is discrimination and imprisonment. 

Not living on-campus is cheaper, it is more educational and it is 10 times more private. No more being afraid or annoyed by RAs trying to intimidate you with their presence. No more being shoved into an itty-bitty room with a stranger. You already did that last year. Try something new.

If UWRF wants students to learn how to think for themselves and make educated decisions, then students should have the option of choosing where they want to live.

Teresa Aviles is a student at UW-River Falls.