The Daily Tar Heel
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The Daily Tar Heel

You're driving down Franklin Street, heading back to your room in Morrison, when all of a sudden you reach an end in the road. There’s a sign; it reads, “Halt! No more dorm life. You must live off campus now!”

You're sad, until you remember that the culture of dorm life at UNC has an expiration date, and for most students, their time in the UNC housing community bubble ends in their first or second year. 

The expectation of upperclassmen to have their own kitchen, special parking spot on campus and a single bedroom enhances the pressure to get off campus, which, in turn, adds to the housing crisis in Chapel Hill.

Many people, already looking to live off campus, feel even more motivated to do so because of Carolina Housing’s lack of care for students; including but not limited to: inaccessibility, the quality of the dorm and the difficulty surrounding actually securing on-campus housing.

I grew up imagining my whole college career to be shared in a small, cozy dorm, cultivated through aesthetic TV shows I worshiped like Gilmore Girls (Rory’s dorm had a literal fireplace in her common area and bedroom.)

My older siblings all lived in a compact dorm for their entire University experience, and I assumed it was just the norm to stay in a crusty dorm. Perhaps it's due to the economic privilege of some students here, or maybe the ‘networking’ that occurs due to 16,680 undergraduate students being in-state and knowing the area — but things at UNC feel very different. 

So I wasn’t surprised when I dialed up my parents and boldly said it’s time to take out a fortune in my savings, I want a living room, they responded quite logically with, you're spoiled if you think you’re going to live in an apartment.

I had a crisis for a few days wondering if I was spoiled to be thinking about living off campus. Was this sudden urge coming from a place of true want or need, or was it due to external pressures?  

Regardless, it seemed like everyone I met either had off-campus housing already or was planning on seeking it in the future. The stress of finding housing, let alone deciding what type I wanted was extremely overwhelming. 

This coupled with the pressure to secure a home, only weeks after settling into my current home, was impossible to manage. 

In most cases, on-campus housing is economically advantageous for me and I would rather not feel guilty about breaking the bank. With no outside noise, I would not question champion living in a dorm as an upperclassman. 

But, the pressure to migrate is very real; even students on full merit scholarships pay the outlandish fees that living in Chapel Hill mandates due to the status quo to get off campus as fast as you can.

There seems to be a social stigma surrounding dorm life — by the time you hit junior year and your 20s, people may deem it childish to still live on campus. When so many people subscribe to these notions, how can people begin to combat them?

When deciding where to live, students should begin by evaluating needs versus wants. Consider what living situation is going to make you happiest without thinking about outside pressure. 

Whether you decide on a residence hall or a space off campus, it's essential to consider your options holistically. If you flock off campus or not, housing in Chapel Hill is not necessarily easy or accessible. 

With everything surrounding the struggle to obtain housing, UNC students do not need to let the on-campus vs. off-campus debate overcome them.

@dthopinion |

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