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Knowing your place

When you live off campus, remember the people around you

- February 12, 2014

It's a whole other world out there once you leave campus. (Natalie Mike photo)
It's a whole other world out there once you leave campus. (Natalie Mike photo)

When you’re in university, it’s easy to forget about being part of a larger community. In residence, your neighbourhood is limited: you put garbage in the required bins, follow the rules about “quiet hours,” and entrust your RA with any issues.

But as your living situation changes and you move off campus, your neighbourhood expands to include people other than students — everyone from grandmothers to toddlers, doctors to plumbers, and everything else in between. When you move off campus, you need to re-examine your habits and your new role in the community.

Living off campus comes with considerably more freedom. You’re no longer required to quiet down at specific hours, you inhabit a space of your own, and you can eat what you want when you want. By all means, bask in these glories — living with a group of solid roommates, or alone, is great fun. But with great freedom comes great responsibility.

When you inhabit a space off campus, you become part of the bigger community. I know it was another lifetime, but remember living at home with the ‘rents? Maybe it was that one neighbour who liked to mow his lawn at 8:00 on a Saturday morning, the house that always had trash all over the yard, or those teenagers down the block that had ragers until the police shut them down. We’ve all had experiences with inconsiderate neighbours. Don’t be that guy, that house, those kids. Think of what your mother would say! Your neighbours might be elderly, do shift work, or have kids. When you’re part of the bigger Halifax community, you have a responsibility to respect your neighbors. Be considerate.

Last week the DSU rounded up a group of about 20 student volunteers who ventured out to help campus neighbours shovel their driveways. Acts of goodwill like this emphasize the symbiotic relationship between the Halifax community and the student population. By having our neighbours’ backs we not only know they have ours, but we also contribute to a safer, cleaner, and more homey place to live.

The other day I saw a friend of mine helping an elderly woman carry groceries into her house. When I asked if it was his grandma, he said, “Nope, just my good deed for the day.” Nicely done. By respecting our community, we contribute to a positive image not only for Dal, but also for ourselves. Your mother would be proud.

Some tips:

  • If you’re planning on having a party, let your neighbours know. They’ll know what to expect, and your jam will probably last longer.
  • If you insist on smoking (or allowing it at your place) have an ashtray for cigarette butts. And clean it all up afterwards.
  • Ensure your garbage/recycling is actually in the bag before you put it on the curb.

If you want to learn more about the responsibilities of living off campus, go to Life Off Campus 101 on Wednesday, Feb. 26 from 7–8:30 p.m. in the MacMechan Auditorium (Killam Library). It's a free event with food, door prizes, and guest speakers giving out info on issues like bylaw enforcement, how to communicate with your landlord, your rights as a tenant, and getting along with your neighbours and roomies.

For more information on living off campus, check out the Student Rights & Responsibilities website.


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