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More students should consider remaining on campus after their first year when deciding where to live.

More students should choose to live on campus

The number one comment I hear when I tell people I live in a dorm is “why?” And frankly, I don’t get it.  

Living in a dorm provides me with walking access to my classes. When attending classes, I do not need to worry about the threat of traffic or the task of finding a parking spot, unlike many students who commute to campus each day. Walking allows me to focus on being prepared for class without thinking about things like cleaning off a snow-covered car or getting gas. 

More importantly, living on campus provides me with walking access to my community. I pay a premium to go to an in-person college. In today’s world it’s much more affordable and flexible to get a degree online, but I pay that premium for access to a community. I am within walking distance to the Memorial Union where all of the clubs I partake in meet, and where I can see my friends.  

I spoke to Nate Feng, a first-year political science student who is choosing to return to the dorms as a sophomore. “I love living on campus because it allows me to be closer to my classes and build better relationships with my friends,” said Feng.

Another reason to stay on campus is that it’s better for the planet. As third-year student Beau Michaud says, “I live on campus because it gets me more exercise and I don’t have to be dependent on a car.” 

I can understand the hesitancy to stay on campus. The off-campus apartment complexes have marketed themselves in a way that promotes a false narrative of scarcity. Students do not have time to think critically about their living arrangements due to the fear tactics used by places such as the Avenue, demanding that you sign a lease in October.

This isn’t just the fault of the Avenue’s management. The university has allowed the dorms to fall into disgusting disarray. The university does not need to hear about the condition of dorms from a consulting firm. Ask any freshman in the Stewart complex and you will quickly discover the consensus that deferred maintenance deters students from returning to dorms.

Living off campus isn’t only a preference; it’s a problem. When the large off-campus complexes were built, Orono had parking minimums for new construction. This, in combination with a slim bus schedule, has created a car-dependent campus. This hurts the walkability of our community and expands our carbon footprint.  

Once the University of Maine properly invests in the future of on-campus residences, we will have a more engaged student body and a better campus community. It will not happen overnight, but I have hope. With the addition of single-user bathrooms to upper-class dorms, the future is bright. If you can afford to live on campus next semester, I encourage you to do so.  

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