The Three-Way | Courtesy, Luke Daigneault

At 163 ½ Oak St., a group picture of last fall’s national qual­i­fying team just joined the growing col­lection of pic­tures of the men’s cross country team from the last fifteen years that litter the kitchen walls. You’ll also find Coach Lundberg clearing a steeple­chase water jump in a Kansas uniform, an auto­graphed cutout of world record holder Henry Rono, and an assortment of plaques and tro­phies (some of which are so old that no current member knows what they are from).

The men’s cross country team called this house their home for the last seven years — and for the last two years, so did I. Known around campus as the “Three-Way,” due to its location by the three-way stop at the old ele­mentary school, this secluded seven-bedroom house became an integral part of the com­munity for the men’s and women’s teams. The foun­dation leans from weight of the tra­dition this home rep­re­sents. Due to college policy, however, this tra­dition died.

The house always counted on more team­mates climbing up the ranks to fill its rooms. Moving into the Three-Way became a rite of passage similar to moving into a Greek house. Due to the off-campus policy of the college, however, none of our team­mates received per­mission to move out of the dorms. Because over half of the house grad­uates this May, there are not enough people to fill it, forcing our landlord’s hand. She offered the house to a com­peting group with the numbers she needs. Just like that, we lost our home. I know other people feel this pain, too.

Hillsdale’s policy needs to change. Instead of requiring stu­dents to get per­mission to move off before they can sign a lease, they should have to show a lease in order to get per­mission to move off campus. Most land­lords look to get con­tracts finalized early in the year, and they con­stantly struggle with the college’s late release of the off-campus list. My sophomore year, Central Hall granted me off-campus per­mission in the middle of the summer, making it impos­sible for me to find housing. It is much more prac­tical to grant off-campus per­mission to those who can show they will actually have a place to move into the next semester.

This would ease rela­tions with the land­lords in the com­munity, decrease the overall stress of rushing to find a house for stu­dents, and the number of people who actually left campus probably would not differ too much from the current trends. The college could still even limit the amount of people they let off, but the dif­ference would be that everyone with per­mission would truly live off campus; many stu­dents who receive per­mission opt to stay on campus anyway.

Moving off campus is an excellent buffer for tran­si­tioning into the real world. You know, the world in which you spray down your own bathroom and vacuum your own floor. Smaller meal plans are also available, so you can learn to cook for yourself. Ever wonder what happens to those dishes after the  con­veyor belt rolls them out of view? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not fun. Hillsdale should be taking mea­sures to promote indi­vid­u­alism and self-starting. Instead they are pro­moting a nanny state on campus.

Easing the off-campus policy also has impli­ca­tions for alumni rela­tions. In the case of the Three-Way, a lot of alumni come back to visit. These alumni could poten­tially donate to the college and help to further promote Hillsdale’s out­reach. What happens when they find out that college policy forced the team to abandon their beloved home? It leaves a bad taste.

Now, I under­stand the jus­ti­fi­cation for the current policy — the college needs to fill dor­mi­tories. But why should Central Hall force the stu­dents to pay for their oper­a­tional short­comings? Many stu­dents move off campus to save thou­sands of dollars. By using their resources and power to buy up off-campus houses and demolish them and cap the number of stu­dents that can move off, Hillsdale College is lim­iting free-market com­pe­tition. How can an insti­tution that rebukes crony cap­i­talism practice exactly that on its own front porch?

The current policy wrecks com­munity and tra­dition. The college should make serious changes to promote the off-campus culture that already exists. Each home has its own char­acter, and the Three-Way is no dif­ferent. Some of my best college mem­ories took place right within those walls. In a few months, I will be an alumni of this college, and it fills me with sadness that I will never return to 163 ½ Oak St.