An Ode to Off-Campus


Design by Jena Salvatore When Vice Chancellor Michele Wheatly announced in March that the University was considering implementing a three-year housing requirement, riots of panicked, pitchfork-yielding students promptly rushed Kent’s house. It turned out to be fake news, but the announcement was a heartbreaking development for pretty much everyone who spent their freshman year roaming Euclid and dreaming of the days when they too could spend two glorious years living in one of the dusty off-campus houses. The houses themselves have been here since ‘Nam and are arguably just as important to the Cuse experience as the silly graduation statistics and retention rates Wheatly cited as the reasons for a new policy.

The history and culture of off-campus student housing is a well-established principle in nearby neighborhoods. Kelly Poleman, a resident of BYH (Big Yellow House) on the corner of Ostrom and Stratford counts the house as a staple of her Cuse experience. “Everyone has a story about ending up at some party at BYH freshman year and having no idea where they are,” she says. Even a friend of her father’s who graduated in the 70s knew of the house when it came up in conversation. BYH houses eight girls, Poleman said the landlord never rents from boys, and there is décor and furniture that have been passed down for years. There are even Greek style letters that match the signature chalk drawings outside.

The Band House is another iconic addition to off-campus culture. Members of Kappa Kappa Sci have lived in the structure on the corner of Livingston and Clarendon for a few decades.. The landlord calls the corner of Livingston and Clarendon “Kappa corner” because of the three houses that make up the homes of the Kappa members. The main gathering spot for the group is the 701 Livingston house, recognizable from the chained-up “weather rock” in the front yard. Aidan Russo, a resident of the house, said that it’s been passed down between Kappas since the early 80’s when the frat first came to campus.

The house shows its age like a cool old dude. A mural depicting Livingstock, a massive, yearly Spring darty from the 80’s and 90’s that had its life cut cruelly short in 1999 after a riot, lines the stairwell in an homage to the party. #RIP Livingstock. A doorway near the back of the house wears height measurements with penciled-on initials from partygoers and frat members over the years. For Russo and the rest of the Kappa members and alum, the house is a part of the organization, and the backdrop to their many traditions and gatherings. “This is our college house. When you think of going to college you think of party houses, and this is what this is to us,” he said. An increase in the housing requirement would make it hard for them to fill the house, as it’s typically a mix of juniors and seniors. Losing it would mean the loss of traditions and memories that Russo, his roommates and all the alumni of 701 share as part of their college experience.

The Livingstock mural at 701 Livingston

The campus framework’s initiatives also include a shit ton of large new buildings, which I encourage you to check out here. One of those buildings is planned to land at 744 Ostrom, the current home of The Daily Orange. The Daily Orange, itself, has been on campus since 1903, and in its current home since the 80’s after its old digs were torn down to make space for a parking garage. The home means a lot to current staffers and alumni who spent hours toiling there. “There are signatures, old paper clippings and inside jokes taped up on the walls and they never get taken down. No one could tell you the story behind it all, but when alumni come back to visit, certain pictures or notes help them remember all those years of all-nighters,” said junior Kathryn Krawczyk in a Facebook message.

For everyone who lives in the streets surrounding campus, getting two years to burn food and do keg stands in the freedom of their own homes is arguably one of the best learning experiences Cuse can offer. It’s a stepping stone from the college bubble to real life. A chance to have responsibilities and intentionally choose to ignore them. When we are all lame 40 year olds, we won’t remember the “experiential learning” or the “culture of collaboration” that SU tries to ~foster~, but instead the room in which we played our first stack cup game, and the porch where we spent hours pretending to do our homework. Plus, who knows how many of us would last at this school with a junior year under the hawk eyes of an RA?