You want me to pay for what?

Caitlin Sirse

With summer break in full swing, a lot of students are fleeing Kent for a few months –whether it is to their parents’ house, an internship many miles away or vacationing.

This can be an exciting time to take a break from classes or work or just relax and enjoy a few more summer vacations before jumping into the “real world,” where summer vacations usually don’t exist.

While there are plenty of worse places to be than Kent in the summer, a few of us are stuck here all summer in classes and part-time jobs. If you’re living off campus with multiple people, odds are some left and some are staying behind. If you haven’t already discussed who will be responsible for paying which bills, it might be a good idea to figure it out now, before bills begin to pile up.

Incoming freshmen will understand that what they learn in class is only a small fraction of the useful knowledge they will walk away after four years at Kent State. Everything else comes from social interaction. If we’re lucky, moving into a dorm is a great experience where you realize your roommate is your new best friend. You may take an orientation class together, eat together, watch TV together –they begin to learn everything about you.

Soon though, we come to the realization that they aren’t perfect –and you aren’t either. There’s probably a messy roommate, a loud roommate, an inconsiderate roommate, and the list continues. If we’re lucky, these are just minor flaws that can be lived with.

Fast forward a few years and students move off campus. There are no more meal plans and you’re no longer paying one lump sum of rent to the university.

Now, rent, bills and groceries must be paid for. Pre-planning who will be responsible for each bill or shared groceries is the best thing any roommates can do.

During the fall and spring semesters, it is pretty easy. Everything can be split down the middle –rent, utilities, cable/Internet, etc.

Summer is a different story. Roommates are coming and going, and suddenly who is responsible for what becomes hazy.

In the summer, the people who occupy the house should probably pay for utility bills –like air conditioning, electricity or water because they fluctuate depending on use. Bills that are fixed should always be split between everyone on the lease, whether or not he or she is physically present. The lease represents a contract, not only between a landlord and tenant, but also between roommates to show their commitment to paying expenses.

Of course we can’t expect our roommates who are gone for the summer to share the cost of running the air conditioning or buying a gallon of milk, but it is not out of the question to be sure everyone is accountable for his or her responsibilities.

Bottom line: it’s not fair for one roommate to pay another’s bill simply because he or she isn’t there. Be sure everyone is on the same page before bills are due, especially before everyone is split up for the summer. It’s not impossible to pay $20 here or there to cover a missing roommate, but it can add up.

Most importantly, when you think back to the days you first met –you never would have imagined losing this new friendship over a squabble about small amounts of money. It’s not worth it.

It comes down to responsibility and accountability.

Caitlin Sirse is a columnist and photo editor for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].