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The Daily Tar Heel

Students Eternally Ask 'On or Off Campus?'

Privacy or a more social atmosphere? A private bathroom or one shared with suitemates or even an entire hall? A monthly utility bill or cold showers? A meal plan or microwavable dinners?

The list is endless.

Certainly, the pros and cons are evenly matched for on-campus and off-campus living. Like fitting a piece into a puzzle, a student's personality must fit his or her living arrangements. And for some students, the social atmosphere that comes with living in a residence hall is a perfect fit.

A freshman in Morrison Residence Hall, Sarah Dougherty enjoys the noisy atmosphere of the South Campus residence hall, where she is able to hang out with friends, or make new ones.

"A dorm is also a good place to stay if you're not ready to be totally on your own," she said.

Rob Manuel has lived the residence hall life for four years. Now on North Campus, he fondly looks back on his days as a freshman in Hinton James Residence Hall. He became close friends with all of his suitemates. On weekends, or even weekdays, he never had to walk far to find a party.

As a senior and a regular at Student Television headquarters in the Student Union, Manuel enjoys life in a North Campus residence hall, where he can walk a short distance to STV and return to a quiet hall late at night.

Will Arey, a freshman living in Craige Residence Hall, appreciates the community atmosphere of residence hall life but recalls a night when the idea of "community" got a little out of hand.

He woke up at 4 a.m. to find the lights on and a girl he had never seen before dripping with mud and standing at the foot of his bed. She told him to go back to sleep, that she only needed to use the phone. Then she lay down in the middle of his room and went to sleep. He asked her to leave and found out later that she had made visits to many other residence hall rooms all over South Campus.

For other students, particularly older ones, the "noisy atmosphere" is the perfect reason to move off campus.

Ryan Hawkins, a senior political science major, moved from Granville Towers to the Warehouse Apartments as a junior. His reason for moving to an apartment: In an apartment, "it's easier to tell people to shut up."

"You have to cook your own food, and I actually enjoy that. But there are times when you wish there was a cafeteria you could just walk to," Hawkins said.

Brad Clark, a junior in Grimes Residence Hall, does not feel so sentimental about the convenience of a nearby cafeteria. "It's like you're forced to have a meal plan. There's only one kitchen on each floor, and the fourth floor doesn't even have one," he said.

He admits that in a residence hall everything one needs is close at hand, but laments that even as a junior, he still has not been able to get a parking space.

None of these issues matter, though, if there is no choice available in the first place.

Freshmen Rohit Prakash and Frank Evans applied for housing too late to live on campus. Instead, they opted to lease a room in a four-room studio apartment at University Commons.

Having never met each other before moving day, Prakash, Evans and two others came together like four characters in a season of "The Real World." The four admit to the uncanny diversity of the apartment: Prakash is Indian, Evans is black, and their roommates -- Yun Yi and Jay Akins -- are Korean and white, respectively. All of them are outgoing, each with a distinct personality of his own.

They hit it off right away, and after a semester of doing everything together from grocery shopping to partying, they are the best of friends. "I've enjoyed it to the fullest. We do everything together. I love it," Evans said.

Perhaps more important than weighing pros and cons is simply knowing where your friends are.

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