Editor’s Column – Res Life vs. Real Life

I love Colgate. I am obsessed with Colgate. There is, though, one thing that has been bugging me recently. We go to school in a small town, that’s a given. And in this small town, there is limited space for us to live off-campus. That’s a given. Senior year, 250 students are allowed to live off-campus. Applications for these spots start in the fall of junior year.

In a perfect world, one would apply for one of these spots junior year and, after then being given permission to live off-campus, would sign a lease with a local landlord. That system makes far too much sense and so, naturally, can’t exist.

Local landlords entertain leases for off-campus residences two years in advance, meaning that anyone who wants even a shot at getting to live off-campus has to snatch up one of the few available apartments before anyone else. One then has to hope that they are randomly chosen from the off-campus applicants, having already paid for the apartment they may not be allowed to live in.


ResLife’s policy makes perfect sense. Students find out who they are compatible with in the first and sophomore years, followed by a decision to move off campus, followed by applying for off-campus housing and starting the apartment-searching process, followed by a super awesome senior year! Yeah!

Unfortunately, ResLife’s policy is entirely unrealistic. Someone following ResLife’s timeline would start looking for an apartment junior year, only to find that, somehow, all of the downtown housing has been taken.

How could this be?

Simply stated, ResLife’s policy and the real world are hopelessly incompatible with each other. And so it is that someone inevitably gets screwed. Either someone follows the real-world plan and lines up senior year housing only to find that they were not among the 250 applicants randomly chosen for the privilege to live downtown, or someone follows Colgate’s plan and ignores off-campus housing until junior year, only to find that there is nowhere to live.

Something has got to give. This situation is absolutely bewildering.

ResLife sent a letter to all sophomores earlier this year stating their belief in Colgate’s off-campus housing plan, and urging students not to sign leases until they are certain they will be allowed to live downtown.

Colgate’s off-campus housing plan, though, does not make sense in the real world. Either ResLife should change the off-campus housing process to allow students to apply to life downtown sophomore year, or Colgate should put pressure on the local landlords not to accept lease agreements before junior year. Colgate cannot just keep on perpetuating a policy that ignores reality.