When it’s cold outside, your room is warm. All those living in the dorms have got us beat there. Living off campus, we freeze our asses off the whole winter. You don’t have to pay for heating and you don’t have to trudge through the snow to get to class in the morning. Well, at least you can trudge through significantly less snow.

You can leave the lights on all the time and have your computers running solely to operate your away messages. Hell, it doesn’t change your term bill anyway. Sorry, Grassroots, on-campus sustainability doesn’t have to be sexy – sometimes sustainability is just a pain in the ass.

But it’s not just the bigger beds that make living off-campus more attractive. It’s the chance to grab four good friends – or in some cases, four reluctant accomplices – to love you like your mother and father never did.

In fourth grade, we called it “House.” And today, well, we’re still working on a more mature name for it. But in essence, it’s all the same thing – everyone assumes their designated role and acts accordingly. Just like “Family Matters,” the father pays the bills, the mother cooks and cleans, the children get into various half-hour shenanigans that are resolved in the last two minutes of the show and Urkel – every family needs to hate someone.

As we all can remember from our days on the playground, the “good parts” get swiped up quickly. Baby, Dog, Crazy Uncle – all hot commodities in the “House” game. Entering my new living situation this year, I was fully aware of this fact.

In a sociological assessment of my housemates and I, senior Sarah Rastegar – another off-campus dweller – decided that I was quick to establish myself as the child of his off-campus family.

“Whiny, sarcastic and moody – in a way that is often confused with “PMS” – Dan exhibits all the angst of a 12-year-old girl who listens to way too many Dashboard Confessional songs,” she said.

Senior Jon Dashkoff is usually content with being the boss of the house. “I think everything is great, except when Adam leaves clumps of hair all around,” Dashkoff said.

In instances such as this, Dashkoff relishes the chance to discipline his children.

“When them there youngins git outta line, I take off this there belt and I give ’em their comeuppance,” Dashkoff said.

One of Jon’s “youngings,” junior Adam Machson-Carter sometimes feels threatened by his “father figure’s” displays of anger.

“I come home everyday to chop wood and keep my [family] warm for the night,” Machson-Carter said.

He also does a fair amount of dishes to keep Dashkoff’s house running smoothly. Chores are a small price to pay for the joy that comes from learning self-reliance, responsibility and cooperation. But the real beauty comes from breaking away from the ironfist of the RAs and whoever the hell a Graduate Head Resident is.

Not only are we able to host dinner parties without being molested by over-zealous university authority figures, but living off-campus also costs less than half of what you pay to live in the dorms.

Friendships develop with your housemates based on co-dependence and not just superficial similarity.

But who are we kidding? The real reason we live off-campus is because that extra $400 a month buys a lot of alcohol, not to mention condoms – lots of condoms.

Rudolph can be reached at drudolph@campustimes.org.

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