Pick your poison. Quickly.

by Beacon Staff • March 4, 2009

Those red sharpie letters on my calendar stare at me. "DEPOSIT," they read, sitting on a Monday square three rows down.

March 16 is when I need to have everything decided. It's the deadline for withdrawing my $300 bid for on-campus housing. It's approaching much faster than I anticipated. If I miss the deadline, those dollars are lost to Emerson's vaults.

I have been pulling my hair out deciding where I want to live next semester. I'm lost. I've been in college less than two years. I'm searching for both the security of on-campus housing and the freedom of having a cool place of my own. And what I'm finding so far is that I have no idea where or how to find these things. What I need is more time.

I was one of the lucky ones to be passed on to stage two of housing selection. I don't know how, as a junior, I was chosen over my former roommates, both of whom were wait-listed (they're sophomores).

I don't even know how I got such a good number (actually, that was pure luck-selection numbers are randomly generated after you're placed in a credit-determined housing selection level). What I do know is that I have two choices: I can either stay on-campus without my friends, or move off-campus and go through the stressful process of finding an apartment.

The worst part about apartment searching is how much time it takes-you can easily waste hours visiting places that are too small for one roommate, too expensive for another and far too mice-infested for everyone.

After confining your search to a couple neighborhoods, a small price range and a minimum bed requirement, odds are you won't find the right place anytime soon. And in fact, many apartments with September move-ins won't be listed until around June-three months after your deposit is due.

What I don't like is that I'm forced to choose between a guaranteed home and my friends. Why can't I have both? And even if there's no way I can get my friends into housing selection, I should be able to have a couple of months to weigh my prospects before losing Emerson housing.

Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if the Office of Housing and Residence Life had sent out their notification e-mails on Feb. 13, like they said they would. Instead, they arrived a week later, erasing seven days from apartment searching. To this point, there has been no extension to the deposit deadline.

I know I shouldn't be stressing so much. Plenty of people live off-campus (about half the student body), so it's not like someone hasn't been in my predicament before.

And it's not like we weren't warned-we've been guaranteed only two years of housing from the moment we toured the college. But if everyone is telling me I still have time to live off Emerson's terrain, why can't I keep my spot in housing until I know for sure? Please don't suggest I forfeit my deposit-$300 is a half month's rent.

In the end, I guess Emerson is doing what Emerson does best. The education prepares you for getting a job (or lack thereof). The no-guarantee housing prepares you for living in a place of your own (or lack thereof).

But in the midst of all this, what I'm really lacking is time.

iLiz Pashley is a sophomore writing, literature and publishing major and is assistant opinion editor of/i The Beacon.