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Fire Away: Dirty Dishes Can Destroy a Friendship

Thursday, April 5, 2012

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Written by Stephanie Rennie

Although no two students encounter the exact same experience while attending post-secondary institutions, there is one common difficulty that we all have all faced: renting. Over the past five years that I have spent at the University of Guelph, I have encountered my fair share of renting issues. Unfortunately, when I approach my peers about these struggles, I realize that I am far from alone.

A majority of students entering university find themselves placed in residences throughout the campus with no inkling as to whom they will be sharing their personal space with for the next eight months. Although life in residence naturally contains enough drama to produce a hit reality television show, some of the stress associated with off-campus living is non-existent during the cozy first year in residence.

I have a theory regarding second year based on my own year of chaos and the unfortunate experience of many others close to me. I call it the second year curse. It’s a curse because in first year when you are choosing who to reside with for the next year, it is difficult to completely decipher your compatibility with these individuals. Due to the large number of people in residences, the lack of chores and the overall blur of responsibilities, it is difficult to accurately assess if you can actually live with these people in tight quarters. As a result, many students sign on the dotted line into a year-long lease commitment without fully recognizing the potential issues that could emerge. 

To avoid preventable conflicts that can sabotage relationships, students need to set out ground rules and guidelines for living together. This may sound elementary, but it is as simple as organizing a chore chart to avoid the constant urge to throw dishes at a messy roommate. Although seemingly trivial, dirty dishes can absolutely destroy any established equilibrium in a shared house.

Apart from the far too common issue of housemate compatibility, students must also overcome the obstacle of being small pawns in the huge housing market. Unfortunately, many students are not aware of their rights as tenants and find themselves in very stressful living arrangements. As students, our level of stress is always hovering just above or below, and at exam time sky-rocketing over, the maximum threshold point. Adding anxiety pertaining to the place that should provide you with comfort and rest can cause serious damage to your mental well-being.

Students are often ignorant of their rights as tenants, since many are entering the world of renting for the first time when they sign their leases at the end of first year. Renting issues range from spatial to financial, all posing difficulties for new renters that are being left in the dark. This year alone, I have conversed with students that are living in a small room without a measly window and that have landlords coming into their housing units unannounced.

While simply walking across campus, it is common to overhear students complaining about their housemates being too loud, too dirty, or too disrespectful. Some of these issues are unavoidable, but when they escalate to jeopardize your general happiness and well-being, it becomes a serious issue. Far too many students are forced to make sacrifices because of disruptive roommates or disrespectful landlords. Pursuing post-secondary education is difficult enough without worrying about getting to sleep because your upstairs neighbour constantly blasts techno at 4am.

I urge students to become informed about their rights as tenants before signing off on a lease. There are many resources on campus and online that can help new renters, including The Student Help and Advocacy Centre (SHAC) at the University of Guelph that assists students facing housing issues.

Stephanie Rennie is Editor-in-Chief of thecannon. Fire Away publishes every Thursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.

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