Recently, a close friend of this article’s author was evicted from campus housing. The author relays his story, as told by him to the author, below.
It is Monday afternoon of week four, you have midterms and p-sets on your mind, an event to organize for a student group and you are on deadline for an article. But all that comes to an abrupt stomach churning halt when you receive a terrifyingly official email from the dean. An email that pops up in your inbox as innocuously as this week’s Cardinal Nights event but contains the stuff of nightmares, telling you that you will be meeting with the dean tomorrow to discuss your possible eviction from housing. Everything else that seemed so urgent gets tossed on the backburner. What does that even mean to lose housing? What would that look like? You meet with the dean and he tells you it is still undecided how they are dealing with it. But grim and troubling seems to be the new theme of your inbox because the next day you get an email saying you have 48 hours to move out of housing and an email from your academic advisor telling you to meet with her immediately. When you meet with her at 2 p.m. the next day she says you have until 5 p.m. that day to decide whether you withdraw from the quarter completely and have the whole quarter erased off your transcript or appeal, but she warns you that you will probably be denied and then all the classes will show up as withdrawals on your transcript for this quarter.
It was only Tuesday night that you were out with friends at Full Moon on the Quad; yes, you had pregamed, but hadn’t everyone else? The difference was you were in the wrong place at the wrong and so you find yourself having to work out where you will sleep for the duration of the quarter.
The vagabond lifestyle is one that is romanticized in modern day culture. As Jack Kerouc, one of the most famous and compelling advocates of transient living advised in On the Road, his novel dedicated to igniting footloose fervor, “There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” The recklessness and boundlessness associated with a break from comfort and stability is alluring if not intoxicating and this sentiment has inspired countless writers, artists, filmmakers adventure seekers and soul searchers. But there are times when the lack of a permanent home base can be anything but glamorous. Juggling school work and extra-curriculars is an almost impossible feat for the average college student. Attempting this balancing act while having to worry about where you will eat your next meal or sleep that night is a horrifying prospect.
I joked with someone who is currently in the midst of this ordeal that he should look at this as an opportunity and use the money to buy a car and sleep in it or to get in touch with nature and pitch a semi permanent tent on FloMo field. We were joking but we weren’t really. Stanford’s campus is basically as insulated as it gets. Living off campus as an undergrad is almost unheard of and even casually venturing off campus is somewhat of an event. Call it a box, call it a bubble, call it a cocoon but the loss of housing is not just the loss of a room. It comes with the nagging tension of being alienated in a place that insists on enveloping you. For better or for worse, it is not just the loss of housing it is the loss of a home and no idealist sense of adventure will make up for that.
Contact Michaela Elias at melias23 ‘at’ stanford.edu