How YOU Livin’?

As this school year comes to a close, living plans for next year are on the forefront of many a sophomore’s mind. Whenever I hear people talking about plans for residency, I am intensely relieved that I managed to find a great house with a great group of girls early on. (Actually, my thoughts are more likely to be of the “There but for the grace of God go I” variety, as it certainly was not my get-up-and-go spirit, early bird gets the worm attitude and enthusiastic initiative that got things in motion.)

Now, some people choose to remain on campus. Reasons range from money to convenience to general unwillingness to deal with the hassle. I can certainly relate. (Like I said, hard work and drive are not exactly my fortes.) I have also heard the panicky statement, “I think I’ll just go abroad for the whole year so I don’t have to worry about this” come out of more than one mouth.

But overall, UVM students do not want to live on campus any longer than they have to. Close quarters, gross food, lack of privacy, communal bathrooms and bad shower pressure, that funny smell in the hall accompanied by that funny stain.

Actually, I guess one of the moments that really made me realize that “I am ready to leave this hellish pit of squalor and despair” was walking down the backstairs of my dorm one night, and then slipping on vomit at the bottom. Now, I have nothing but sympathy for the puker (though a cleanup job might have been a cool move)-it was the kid I passed on the stairs when I was going down that really got on my nerves. He was going up, I was going down, and while he gave me a super-polite up-and-down once-over, he neglected to advise me to watch out for the hurl a half-flight below him. Hence the necessitated change of pants and funny aroma that trailed behind me that Friday.

Anyway, here at UVM, there are other factors that influence more than one sophomore to remark something to the effect of, “Dear God, I don’t know if I can make it these last few weeks; grant me deliverance!” I hardly think I need to mention those late-night prowlers-I mean, police- wandering the halls at all hours. Then there’s the low tolerance policy for behavioral infractions, leading to a multitude of students facing disciplinary probation for their tenure here at UVM. These students often develop a view of the residence halls as life under the watchful eye of Big Brother. No wonder-authority figures are everywhere, vigilant, attentive and on the lookout for that next (often trivial) infraction that will lead to suspension or expulsion. “You step out of line, the man come to take you away…” Literally.

Meanwhile, the UVM bureaucracy encourages students to remain on campus for the duration of their time at UVM. Nowhere is this (somewhat) tacit attitude more apparent than in the many new town policies that discriminate against college students. There is a newer, stricter policy on noise violations and parties. In certain zoned areas (i.e., college neighborhoods), new restrictions require that residents share a joint bank account from which they withdraw money for household expenses such as rent and food. These things are not huge deterrents, but the red tape is a little ridiculous.

Yes, one could make the argument that to a responsible, rule-abiding student, campus living is nearly complaint-free (except for those rowdy miscreants next door playing music, laughing and clearly neglecting homework every Saturday night) and noise violations off-campus are undreamable. I agree there are some people who are out of control and the discipline, punitive measures and restrictions they face are for their own good. These students would be a problem anywhere, however, and would most likely be weeded out in disciplinary systems far more relaxed than at UVM. I do not think people should receive special treatment for behaving inappropriately, nor that those who can boast irreproachable conduct and an impeccable record should be penalized.

But come on. Getting caught for a minor infraction here is common. There are a lot of good kids out there who really are just the always-getting-caught types. Good-natured, guileless and lacking in some of that common sense that can be acquired with age and experience, perhaps, but this slight foolishness is kind of endearing, no? Give these students a couple small fines, some community service, but don’t deny them the education that could serve as the means by which these students move from immature partiers to well-rounded, informed adults.