Living on-campus builds community, improves student life

Photo by Lexie Boren

By Zoe Jennings

It is easy for students at Lewis & Clark to complain about the on-campus living requirement of four semesters: it’s too long, too expensive, the meal plan is terrible and the food is bad, we have little independence or privacy, quiet hours are limiting. The list of complaints I’ve heard goes on and on. LC students are notorious for complaining about all things related to the school, and I certainly cannot say that I break the pattern in that regard — I have probably complained about each of these things at least once in my two years at this school so far. I do, however, believe that it is important to consider all sides of an argument in order to make a more educated decision or opinion on a matter.

I came to this school knowing I would have to spend my first two years living on campus. So did everyone else. I was okay with this — even excited at the beginning. Living on campus provides an immediate and sometimes inescapable sense of community for new students. I met four of my closest friends because we lived in the same Living-Learning Community our freshman year.

“(There is) lots of research, nationally and internationally, that it is best for students to have a common experience and (a place where they can develop) their sense of identity and how they relate to the world,” Sandi Bottemiller, Director of Housing and Orientation said. She added that it is important “to have a built-in community and built-in system of support” in students’ first few years of college.

Campus Living also does its best to help students who are unhappy with their living situation on campus find a better solution. If a student has medical or financial needs that come up once they are on campus, they can petition to move off campus, so long as they have documentation proving, as Bottemiller put it, the “uniqueness of their situation.” I have a friend who lives off campus for medical reasons and her living situation now suits her much better than when she lived on campus. For other issues that come up, the Campus Living staff are happy to help mediate roommate discussions and help students find a new room through the mid-semester housing lottery. After that, it mostly falls on the student to take responsibility for themself and their needs. Some might just have to bear with it and wait out the required living period. Even so, everyone is bound to get something positive out of the dorm experience, even if there are certain aspects that make them unhappy.

My main complaint now, as a sophomore who is going abroad in the spring, is that I have to come back and live on campus my first semester of junior year in order to finish my fourth semester of on-campus living. Overall, though, this is not that significant of an issue and is easy enough to deal with. I’ll either room with a friend, or in a single. I’ve already dealt with living on campus for three semesters; one more won’t kill me.

Living on campus for four semesters is a reasonable requirement, one that fosters a sense of community and is overall beneficial for students at LC. Even though it’s frustrating at times — and I can’t wait to live off campus when I’ve fulfilled the requirement — I will always cherish the memories I have made with my friends and roommates on campus. From doing yoga at 2 a.m. in the Platt first-floor lounge, to taking the Pio downtown to escape Bon food, I’ve already created countless happy memories as a result of living on campus.

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