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Off-campus ups and downs

David Barrett | Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Off-campus life. The much sought-after freedom. From overbearing rectors, underdressed roommates and Genesis junkies willing to wake you up at 4 a.m. to see if they can sneak in a quick game of Street Fighter. It’s a nice little notion indeed, but it comes with a handbasket full of different, yet equally aggravating headaches.

Every day I see advertisements in the newspaper directed at the desperate, Johnny come lately. Yes, in the off-campus game, October is late. I’m pretty certain that all off-campus accommodations are locked up for the next 4 to 5 years. All but Turtle Creek that is.

Lucky you, you can rush over to Turtle Creek as late as Halloween to reserve that regal townhouse you and your friends have dreamt about since freshman year. Once you come up with a modest down payment worth about 18 months of rent, you’ll be asked to sign a lease statement permitting unwarranted and unnecessary searches and seizures, forbidding such noise violations as playing Travis too loud on your stereo and accepting the inevitability of eviction at even the most mild of fun-having.

I love pizza. Not as much as my brother does, but almost as much. According to the ads, “Everyone that moved into Turtle Creek this year got a FREE pizza!” Interesting, because I didn’t. If by FREE they mean not free, then yes, I got about 30. Or maybe they are referring to the coupons we all received, and continue to receive, for a second pizza free provided we buy the first one at full price, from the Hut. Anyway, I’m still hungry.

One thing they don’t advertise, however, are the courtesy wake-up calls you receive every now and again. They usually come when a weekend full of big partying is suspected. Imagine the loudest knock you have ever heard. Make it three times as loud, and it is still not even half as loud as the one we get from the heavy-handed management. Bear in mind that these are ladies doing the knocking. Sometimes they will just leave a little note on their very own stationery reminding us that yet again the Excise Police could be here this weekend, so party accordingly.

Or maybe you happen to get yourself out of bed and engage in a little dialogue with Bam-Bam herself.

“Yo, there are people sleeping,” I say sleepily.

“Oh, I just wanted to know if you happen to know when Rally in the Alley is.”

“Um, are you serious? I have no idea,” I say with indignation and disbelief.

“OK, clean up that trash, tenant.”

I must applaud them on their new environmental initiative, though. Rather than seeing the alleys pile high with garbage, they require that each and every apartment bring them a bag of trash by noon the day after a party. This gets you checked off a list of party throwers and public urinators, all caught the night before having a little too much fun and taking a few too many liberties. All those that fail to report for trash duty are, of course, subjected to heavy fines and possible time.

I could go on about Turtle Creek, but each off-campus option you consider is going to have its drawbacks. Rather than getting pizza coupons and signing a lengthy lease agreement, residents of Lafayette apartments get a crowbar through their windshield and a police report to fill out. Residents of College Park aren’t even so lucky to get a visit from the familiar faces of their management. They don’t even get a knock. They just get a pack of low-lifes sneaking in through their sliding doors to clean house.

That leaves Castle Point. Their apartments are clearly the nicest. The hike from campus is obviously an inconvenience, but the prospect of living in one of their magical neighborhoods is too frightening to ever take living there seriously. If you are lucky, you will end up with an address of Coronation Gardens, seemingly obscure and thus easily dismissed. Unfortunately, chances are you will end up in one of their more popular subdivisions, The Enchanted Forest or The Court of the Royal Arms. Robin Hood might have been a swell guy, but I’m not going to model an entire apartment complex after his life and works. Nor will I live in one. I cast my quiver aside years ago.

After living at Turtle Creek my junior year, I decided a change of scenery wouldn’t be such a bad idea. However, after weighing all other options, I had waited too long. So Turtle Creek it was, and Turtle Creek it still is. It isn’t all that bad. It has its downs and its ups. The question is whether all those aforementioned downs are still better than the overbearing rector and video game addicts. If not, I’d settle for the single.

David Barrett is a senior economics and philosophy major. Contact him at [email protected] views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.