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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Whose house?

< the last few weeks, students have filled The Clap with their thoughts on the nature of student housing and its future at Carleton. Specifically, the debate has centered around the importance of the option to live off campus.

This is a good time to evaluate the role student housing plays in our college experience, and the formation of our sense of community.

Here is how the debate has unfolded so far:
Benefits of living off campus include having your own living space with a kitchen and multiple private bathrooms, gaining valuable “real world” skills like paying bills and rent, dealing with landlords and house upkeep. You also control the quality of your meals and get to experience cooking for yourself, if you’re into that. Plus, paying rent instead of room and board is gentler on your (or your parents’) wallet.
Living off campus also has its challenges—dinner takes time to cook; it’s not just waiting for you in the LDC. The bathroom takes time to clean. (Showers are scary when they’re dirty, trust us.) If something goes wrong at your party, you have to deal with the Northfield Police, who, no matter which way you look at it, are not as cool as Jim, Wayne and Randy.

But why has this discussion elicited such passionate views on either side? What does it say about the sense of community we have here at Carleton? We want to add to the discussion.

The Carleton community would lose some of its most valuable qualities without its strong residential profile. But, despite Carleton’s small size, our campus supports different types of overlapping communities, which, as students get older, become less anchored in geography. Yes, your freshman year friends might all have lived on 5th Watson, but as you pick a major and become more involved on campus, your social life reorients to those more fluid groups.

We don’t need to be a 100 percent residential campus in order to have a strong sense of community at Carleton. The way we define our communities transcends where we live.

On the other hand, we all chose to study at Carleton, a school that calls itself a residential community. And while we certainly value the skills and experience that off-campus living provides, we only have four years of college, four years of living in close-knit dorm communities, and the rest of our lives to live independently in apartments and houses.

We are both lucky enough to live off-board – one in a townhouse, the other in town – and have experienced the benefits and challenges that this brings. Though in a sense we joined the Northfield community, we still feel connected to the Carleton campus, the kind of place you learn to cherish once you leave it for the “real world.”

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