Homeless for Christmas

By Chris Denschikoff

So, you’re a new student, fresh on campus, still shiny from lack of use–squeaky clean. There’s only one problem: you’ve spent all your parents’ hard-earned cash on inflated tuition fees, beer, and contraceptives, or you’re cramming a final project into three days when it was scheduled for three weeks.

You have nowhere to live, and no money to eat. All you can do is attend classes. Welcome to the campus homeless community.

It’s not easy, but it’s possible to get by in a squalid, dirty fashion that would horrify your parents and right-thinking friends. In fact, there are even some perks.

The most important, and most difficult commodity to obtain is lodging. If you have a very sympathetic friend in residence, they might let you sleep on the floor and not let on to the rez police.

If you’re a fine arts student, you’ve got it made in the shade. That place in the Arts Parkade is homeless-art-student-Mecca. You have three things in your favour.

First, the building is locked at night, so if you can get in you can stay in. (Ed: It’s not locked as tightly now.) Second, most art students dress like they’re a step away from living in the dust-bin anyway, so you won’t be embarrassed by your uncouthness. Third, if you get caught, you can claim to be part of a "life is art" project that involves your sleeping in the studio in various poses.

If you cannot get into rez or art, then things are a little more difficult. Your best bet is to try to get into one of the other buildings that get locked up, but are patrolled infrequently (e.g., Craigie Hall, Science A or B). Another possibility is the MacKimmie Library, if you can hide yourself in the stacks. Not only will you have a soft place to sleep that night, but you will have an opportunity to read and expand your mind.

What is perhaps one of the most valuable assets of being a student is the fact that you can get into the Physical Education complex and take a shower whenever you want. You can go into just about any bathroom to shave and brush your teeth. Let’s face it: students can be much more hygienic than most–you have no excuse for being really dirty.

Food and drink are a little more complex. If you wish, you can get water from the many fountains around campus. Rather monotonous, but it’s free and full of fluoride and other healthy minerals. The coldest fountain on campus is the old ceramic-based one by the Chaplain’s Center in MacEwan Hall (third floor). Other than that, refreshment is rare.

Food is even rarer. At the beginning of the semester, there are Campus Survival Packs, but a student cannot survive on aftershave and tampons alone. The only thing a broke student can do to obtain food is to pick it from garbage heaps or unguarded plates. However, if you obtain food from a dumpster, you can at least be assured that it is of better quality than most food court fare. If you are truly desperate, there are the charitable on-campus organizations such as the Food Bank and, at Christmas, the Adopt-a-Student program.

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