Aug 242006
 
Authors: Kaitlin Snook

The end of freshman year should be a time of excitement for students, and a time of independence and freedom from the RAs, the campus police and the ever-popular dorm food.

Sure, we have been independent from our parents for a year, but for most of us, sophomore year is a time of true freedom: cooking our own meals, cleaning our own bathrooms and deciding our own quiet hours. And the best part is, we get to choose a house that’s all our own.

OK, well not exactly our own.

Except for the lucky few who can afford to buy a house, most of us sign a lease and have to abide by a whole new set of rules. Instead of our parents or RAs controlling our every move, we now have landlords deciding what we can and can’t do, how loud we can be and at what hours, how many people can come over, and now, much debated, how many people can actually live in the house.

For those of you who are new to CSU and have no idea what I’m referring to, there is currently a law in Fort Collins stating that no more than three unrelated individuals can reside in one single-family dwelling. That simply means that you can’t live with more than two of your friends.

“Why?” you might ask. Some say it’s to reduce the number of migrant workers living in a house together, and, while I do believe that could be part of the reason, I don’t think the whole story is being told.

As college students, we are constantly labeled as partiers – 24-hour boozers who have no respect for ourselves, let alone others. Limiting the number of people allowed to live in a house isn’t necessarily going to change how students behave.

There are always going to be people who throw parties and tear apart houses and other people’s property, but that doesn’t mean that every student should be punished. Despite the various labels, most of us are here to learn and make better lives for ourselves, yet this law can actually, at times, financially inhibit us from reaching these goals.

According to CSU’s Web site, an in-state student taking the advised 15 credits a semester will pay $3,022.95. This doesn’t include general fees, technology fees or faculty fees, which together can add up to about $600.00.

Non-residential students are even more burdened by the financial strain that college brings. Again, not including all of the general fees, out-of-state students will be paying $16,214 for this year. On top of that, tuition continues to rise with each passing year.

Like myself, the average college student spends four or more years living off of financial aid and working as many hours as possible without having it affect our grades and of course social life. We have enough to think about simply trying to graduate in a timely manner without the constant reminder of monthly rent payments – and living with a greater number of people can significantly reduce those payments.

Many of the houses surrounding campus have four or more bedrooms and were built years ago, designed either for families or as ideal living spaces for students long before the law was passed. A five-bedroom house, which on average costs about $1,400 a month, could mean for three students living in the house are paying $466 each instead of $280 for five.

Granted, there are ways to get around the law and many students have succeeded in doing so. But in the event that students do get caught, landlords will usually enforce the law and remove tenants so that only three remain.

This leaves students homeless and adds to the stress of everyday college life that we constantly struggle to get through. College is supposed to be a fun and free time in one’s life and a time to learn about yourself and the world around you, not a time to worry about senseless laws holding you back financially.

Kaitlin Snook is a junior technical journalism major. Her column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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