Digs VS Dorms: The highs and lows of life on- and off-campus

by Langa Mohlala

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Water supply. Hygiene. Food. Noise. It seems that one cannot go a day without hearing at least one complaint on the state and/or functioning of at least two or all of the above-mentioned issues in res.

There are also mutterings of dorm residents expressing their desire to move out of res and into digs. This prompts the thought, “Is living off-campus any better? Is living off-campus better than living on-campus? What even happens in digs?"


The pros of living off-campus include freedom, having privacy, learning independence and having a spacious and comfortable place that is peaceful, and creates an environment conducive to active studying.

The cons of living off-campus can include not being allowed to have any pets, experiencing loneliness, constantly cleaning after yourself and paying for everything yourself. Some digs experience no water issues at all, whereas the water is restricted every three days in others.

Preparing food everyday can be difficult, and some Oppis like to eat on campus or at Spur, which has a student menu. Others prep and freeze meals ahead of time so that they don’t have to cook.

Oppis generally decide to live off-campus, with the support of their parents, to gain a sense of freedom and avoid any drama that takes place in res. They also find that living off campus is preferable because it helps them avoid peer pressure and gives them free-reign over their decisions. Digs are relatively safe – some with locks and others with panic buttons – and hygienic, although dishes are a bit of a hassle to take care of.


The pros of living in res include being relatively close to lectures, having easy access to people, always being among the first to know what happens on campus and making friends easily.

The cons include sharing showers, a lack of privacy, a sometimes hostile environment, unnecessary punishments, a lack of mutual respect, slow maintenance repairs and feeling a sense of irritation in the participation of res activities.

The inconsistent water supply is a popular complaint among residents, along with the food provided in the dining halls. Some residents noted that there are not enough vegetarian options and that the food quality is not the best – although the only other reasonable alternatives are noodles and oats.

Living on-campus is generally the decision of residents’ parents as it is considered safer and more convenient than living off-campus. Residence-dwelling Rhodents do like living on campus, even though some expressed a desire to live in digs. The hygiene situation in res has been described as “tense” and “horrifying”, however safety is of good quality.

The verdict

Res has its issues, but it cannot be denied that fellow dorm-mates are like brothers and sisters, and living alone would make Makhanda extremely boring.

DH food is not five-star restaurant quality, but it is the closest thing there is to a home-cooked meal.

The hygiene situation is appalling, but that is solely the fault of the students in res. They are both the problem and the solution, and if everyone in res did their part, things can and will improve.

It is unfortunate that Makhanda is in a water crisis, however people are trying their best to ensure that they have water for the majority of the week. There are tanks outside residences and there are trucks that come at least once a week to provide drinking water. Other people in Makhanda have to travel large distances in order to collect water (or refill their bottles). Some don’t have any at all.

The perks of living off-campus are wonderful, but one can imagine that it entails a great deal of responsibility and can be a hassle during trying times.

Living and being on your own is great, but it can get lonely eventually. Silence often speaks volumes.

It also seems like a mission to travel from far and wide to get to a lecture venue on time, especially without transportation. People in upper campus are struggling, so one can only imagine how much worse it is for people who live far from campus and have a dawnie in Eden Grove.

In conclusion, it cannot be said that one is better than the other. Your experience will be as great or as terrible as you make it.

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