The story of squatting students at college Squatting students are of no fixed abode

Latwell Nyangu Youth Interactive Writer

Any student that has passed through the four walls of a tertiary institution in this country and had the supposed privilege of staying in the hostels will be familiar with the terminology called ‘squatting.’

For clarification, a squatter in college is someone who resides in a (hostel) room that he or she does not own.

The authority of being a squatter, as well as the rights that such a person legally has, in the issue of accommodation, has become the centre of discussions on different campuses.

In tertiary institutions today, it’s no longer news that at the beginning of the semester, some students are usually stranded as regards accommodation issues, especially the new students. Accommodation or a lack of it, as I have observed, has now become a very tough issue among undergraduates.

I will not end this piece without pleading with my fellow students who have now turned the need for accommodation into a money-making business as it does not help in the long run. One must also plead with the college authorities to look into providing more accommodation for students on campus and off it.

While going to college means you will be meeting people from different cultures, staying at the hostels ensures you interact with them and learn how big and beautiful this world is. This can be an interesting experience of learning and appreciating things we have in common.

Most college students undergo a period when everything feels a little bit hopeless. It’s a feeling only college students are privy to, as older, established adults often view college as a relaxing time for partying and “finding oneself.”

While there is certainly time for doing so, it can be challenging when you are struggling to muster up the motivation to even attend lectures.

One could write a book on the different trials faced by college students. And there are a few negative effects which include debt, partying, sexual assault, missing family and friends, and stress.

The positive effects are getting a degree, making new friends, becoming more diverse, most likely getting a good job after graduating, and helping students to become more independent and grow as individuals.

And indeed, college is often portrayed as the best time of one’s life. However, there is a bad side to being at college that is often overlooked.

For starters, college can be a very stressful environment. With classes, exams, assignments, and extracurricular activities on their plate, students can easily become overwhelmed and experience burnout. This can take a severe toll on their mental and physical health.

Another downside of college is the cost. The cost of tuition, textbooks, housing, and other expenses can add up quickly, putting students under significant financial stress. This can contribute to mental health issues and can also lead to students dropping out of college altogether.

Apart from all that, fellow students, in our world of big names, curiously, our true heroes tend to be anonymous.

Life can be full of hardships, and it can be made even harder to live day by day when in poverty. It’s said that education is the key to success, but what if poverty is the key reason for people not receiving it?

Some students need applause as they face mammoth tasks daily until they finish their academic journey.

It’s not an easy journey, trust me. It’s not a walk in the park. But, there is light at the end of the tunnel despite at times, the tunnel being rough and tough.

They say, the harder the chase, the sweeter the catch but at times it’s not easy as many people anticipate.

When you see some students crying during graduation, let them do so, you do not know what they have gone through.

When you see a student celebrating like they have been given this world, let them do so.

It is what they have gone through which has made them celebrate that way. This week I just want to dedicate this column to students who have remained on a low while going to college and school and no one even knows what they would have eaten, where they would have slept.

No one even knows who would have paid their school fees, who would have provided for their transport. It is my prayer today that the Lord give them the serenity to change things they can’t change and they are given the ability to execute their plans. But the most heroes, are the students who are squatting in some rooms with fellow students.

It’s either they pay something or they are staying as friends. The most dilemma is the raids by night which are conducted by the university’s authorities. They go hostel by hostel in search of these ‘squatters’, once caught, you are sent packing.

How then do they survive, either by luck or chance? Time will pass by until they finish college.

Some students are squatting just because they do not have money for transport or either they have missed an opportunity to get some residence. A few years ago, I was at a certain college staying at the hostels, and I happened to have a friend whose life was in shambles.

His name is Xixo, but to tell you today, he is a different man altogether.

But during that era, he was just a mere poor man. Interestingly, he then began to squat in my room until he got somewhere to stay. You would tell the situation was not good. The dean of students would come overnight to do some routine checks, and I would smuggle him or tip him to stay out until the checks were done. Fellow students, being a squatting student is a big task that no one with a faint heart would survive.

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure despite overwhelming obstacles. At times going to school is like going to the battlefield.

You just have to be brave and be optimistic, no surrender, no retreat.

I love such students, who fight like soldiers until they win. This is like other students who are fighting wars from all corners.

Fellow students, we are running different races and our aims are winning. Spare a thought for students who do not have accommodation at universities. The only alternative they have is squatting with friends and colleagues. Squatting students are like homeless people. They are of no fixed abode and they are most alert individuals.

While at some point I have written something about not cohabiting at college, the mystery remains as no one knows what happens there in the absence of families.

But what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. For the students who are staying at the hostels without proper approval, they are there because they want to finalise their academic journey.

Cheers to the ‘squatters’ of the universities.

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