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Old 04-27-2004, 07:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: New York, NY
Homeless NYU Student Lives in Library For Eight Months

I thought this was a very interesting article. I give the guy props for finding a solution when tuition is through the roof, your parents aren't available to help you, and you really just want to get a good education.

On the other hand, the Times does show a hint of questioning whether this whole thing is a fabrication. It sounds plausible to me.

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Quote:

April 27, 2004
Yes, Some Students Live in the Library (But Not Like This)
By KAREN W. ARENSON

In an era when attending college can cost $40,000 a year or more, hardship tales abound. But few match Steve Stanzak's curious story of his last eight months as a homeless sophomore at New York University, sleeping six hours a night in the subbasement of the Bobst Library, showering in the gym or at friends' apartments, doing his homework at a nearby McDonald's and subsisting mostly on bagels and orange juice.

As he put it on the Internet, where he has spent four or five months recounting his adventure, it was "the tale of a penniless boy and his quest to gain a college education." He said he took refuge in the library after being denied adequate financial aid, and described himself as "a furtive figure amongst dusty stacks of books, below the offices of the elite administrators of the university."

Could it really be true?

That is hard to say.

N.Y.U. officials, when they learned of his Web site (homelessatnyu.com/home.php) last week and read his online diary, quickly invited him in for a conversation and then gave him a free room in one of their residence halls for the rest of the semester.

"We took what he had to say at face value," John Beckman, an N.Y.U. spokesman, said yesterday. "It seemed the only appropriate course. I can't go into many details. But we have arranged for housing for him."

For his part, Mr. Stanzak seemed somewhat surprised yesterday by the attention he was drawing after an article about him appeared in the campus newspaper, The Washington Square News.

"I knew it would be interesting to the N.Y.U. community," he said in an interview, as he sipped orange juice in a cafe. "I just didn't know anyone else would care."

Mr. Stanzak, 20, a creative writing major who made the dean's list last semester, looks the part of a tousled college student. His blond hair — dyed, he said — flops over his forehead. He has small metal rings in his left ear and his right eyebrow, and when he speaks, a silvery metal post is visible in the middle of his tongue.

He said that as a gay man who grew up in Waterloo, N.Y., a small town in the Finger Lakes region, he is used to being different.

He said that he hit upon the idea of sleeping in the library last September after he could not get a private loan to supplement his N.Y.U. scholarship ($15,000, he said), his federally subsidized loans and the money he earns by working at multiple jobs. He said that his parents are divorced and that neither is contributing to his education. The only question he was unwilling to answer was how to reach them.

But if limited finances were the original reason that he took up residence in the library, he said he soon realized it could be a rich experience for his writing.

As he put it on his Web site: "I am a writer at heart, and go to N.Y.U. for creative writing, and this seemed like an experience I just couldn't pass up. I am an idealistic dreamer, and this seemed like something I could do, that would benefit me financially and creatively."

The decision to share his experiences with the world came later, he said, as he grew tired of explaining to friends what he was doing and why. He simply posted an explanation on the Internet.

The more he wrote about his life as "the Bobst Boy," as he christened himself, the more it became a kind of "stress relief," he said.

Yesterday, as he led a visitor on a tour of his former haunt, down the marble steps to the second basement, he seemed familiar with the surroundings. It was a bare white room lit by fluorescent tubes and filled with a maze of study carrels. The basement floors are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sometime after midnight, Mr. Stanzak said, he would head to the far back corner with a pillow and pull four chairs together to sleep. He said he fit pretty well — he is only 5 foot 6 — and never rolled off.

"It's not as uncomfortable as it looks," he said.

At first, he was fearful, Mr. Stanzak said, but gradually he gained confidence.

"I wasn't afraid of being thrown out of the library," he said. "I could have slept in the park. My worst fear was getting kicked out of N.Y.U. I love this school."

He said that security guards awakened him perhaps five times. The first two times they told him he could not sleep there, he said. Later, they wanted to make sure he was O.K. — and that he was an N.Y.U. student. He said he suspected that some people in the library might have been aware of what he was doing but chose not to say anything about it.

He kept some clothes and toiletries in a rental locker at one end of the library floor. (They were still there yesterday when he opened it.) His books were in a second locker, on the fourth floor, and the rest of his belongings were in a storage locker near the university.

He said that while friends might have been willing to put him up for more than a night or two, "I didn't want to impose."

He said that many of his friends thought he was crazy when he embarked on his library life, and that some continued to think of it as a kind of extended joke. And some people who commented on his Web site expressed skepticism about whether his story was true. But he said that for himself, it gradually became his "normal life," though not one that he discussed with his family.

"Unlike the majority of students at N.Y.U," he wrote on his Web site, "I don't get an ounce of money from mommy or daddy and can't afford to live the lavish life here. If it sounds like I'm bitter, it's because I am."

He said he had not yet heard about his financial aid for next year.

By yesterday afternoon, N.Y.U. officials seemed to be taking Mr. Stanzak in stride, but stressed that students who fall short financially should seek help.

"We do have resources for students in emergency situations," Richard J. Kalb, associate dean for students at the College of Arts and Science, where Mr. Stanzak studies.

Other officials, though, described Mr. Stanzak as creative and entrepreneurial.

"N.Y.U. doesn't attract just smart students, it attracts smart, eclectic students," said Mr. Beckman, the university spokesman. "We had a film student who wanted to film a couple performing a live sex act in front of a class. We had students who set up a swimming pool in their dorm room. Now we have this fellow."
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Old 04-27-2004, 07:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Interesting read. I wonder if it's true.

As a side note, one of my roomates in college had a homeless guy living with him. My old roomate (Greg) had transferred into the school from an out of state school to be closer to his home and moved into the dorm. When he got there he saw a duffel bag on the other bed and assumed it belonged to his roomate. He finally met the guy after a day or so and wasn't too happy. The guy smelled, never went to class, stole stuff from him, and he finally had enough. He kept calling housing to get moved and they couldn't do anything because there's always so much going on in the beginning of the semester trying to fill empty rooms, getting people off the wait list, etc. Finally after a couple of weeks he gets someone on the line who's willing to help him and they tell him that he doesn't have a roomate. The cops came and arrested the guy that night. Pretty damned funny if you ask me.
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Old 04-27-2004, 07:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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well fuck the dorms im movin to the library...

ive often thought about how easy it would be to get away with stuff up there whether its sleeping up in the stacks somewhere or foolin around with a girl or whatever...
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Old 04-27-2004, 07:53 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I have seen many a homeless person sleeping in our library (yes, a real one, not some kid who wouldnt hit up his friends for a room because he thought it would be fun to live in the library). You walk into some of the more isolated areas, and there is almost always a homeless guy sleeping in one of the armchairs. Doesnt bother me too much--the only thing that bothers me is that apparently they dont realize you are supposed to be quiet--frequently, there will be two of them, and they carry on a conversation at a normal tone of voice, laughing and yelling occasionally. The library staff doesnt seem to want to tell them to keep it down, either.
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Old 04-27-2004, 08:07 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Hmmm. I recall living in my car for a few weeks because my roomie bailed on the rent. That sucked.

I used the dorms to shower there were plenty of people there that thought I lived in the dorms, that when I finally moved in for the last 5 weeks of class, it was like I had always lived there.
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Old 04-27-2004, 08:34 AM   #6 (permalink)
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if he wasn't a good student I doubt the outcome would have been the same. glad it worked out for the positive.
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Old 04-27-2004, 08:36 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I had a friend live in our dorm room and sleep on the floor for like 2 months my freshman year. Good times...
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Old 04-27-2004, 10:08 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I got locked in the library my freshman year of college. I'm sitting at a study desk and I laid my head down for a second. When I wake up and look at my watch it is 1:15 in the morning and the place is dark. I go downstairs and try to leave by the front doors but they won't open up. So I go to the stairwell and leave through one of those emergency exit doors with the alarm handle. The bells and light went on but nobody came so I just walked back to the dorm.
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Old 04-27-2004, 10:16 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I would move into my library but my school is haunted... If this story is on the up and up, this guy is awesome! What a way to show the system that there is always a way around the bullshit!
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Old 04-27-2004, 10:40 AM   #10 (permalink)
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That story rocks so much. I wonder if he started a fight club too.
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Old 04-27-2004, 11:10 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Location: Ontario, Canada
Funny university sleeping stories...

I spent a few weeks living out of a car, because I was +very+ slack for a period of my life. Half way through the month I got a place to live.

A bunch of friends of mine had a house to themselves. One day one of them went downstairs, and there was someone they didn't know on the couch.

/shrug.

After a few hours the guy was gone. Afterwards, all of them had thought he was a guest of one of the others...

Sleeping in the student lounge wasn't all that uncommon (finish an assignment at school late, don't want to walk home at 5 am in the morning). A number of on-campus buildings where open 24/7. At least one friend spent a month sleeping in various on-campus lounges and showering in the oncampus gym. Probably others did as well. Student societies would randomly shut down their lounges to discourage this sort of behaviour...
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Old 04-27-2004, 12:18 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by k1ng
I had a friend live in our dorm room and sleep on the floor for like 2 months my freshman year. Good times...
that was me... i had just quit my job and didnt feel like listening to my parents bitching at me for not being in school & not having a job...
i donated plasma 2 times a week (20-25$ a stick) for gas & food money. it was a nice vacation.. and i learned how to be carefull with money.

i have about 50 unpaid parking tickets from that.... they almost towed my car but i got out right b4 they got it.
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Old 04-27-2004, 03:34 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Yakk
One day one of them went downstairs, and there was someone they didn't know on the couch.

/shrug.

After a few hours the guy was gone. Afterwards, all of them had thought he was a guest of one of the others...
Sounds a little bit like the movie Half Baked.
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Old 04-28-2004, 02:15 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by animosity
a week (20-25$ a stick) for gas & food money. it was a nice vacation.. and i learned how to be carefull with money.

wait??? how do you donate plasma... you get money?? sounds like my kind of job... fill me in
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Old 04-28-2004, 02:31 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Location: oregon
Man, I Know how he feels. I would do the same thing because I have to much pride to go running home to mommy and daddy or bothering my friends.
My parents are not paying for any thing either.

PLasma is easy to donate, just go to a place like red cross or some kind of blood donating place, they take the blood from you take the plasma out and then put the blood back in you can donate 2 times a week, but there is a down fall you could get scars, And you better hope air does not get into the tube when there putting your blood back in or good bye you lol.

I had some drunk guy climb in bed with me and he was too damn fat for me and my roomie to move off my bed,gross thing was that he sweat a lot and made one of my pillows wet and smelly I slept on the floor after an hour trying to get him to get off my bed he was moaning,snoring and being a baby .
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Old 04-28-2004, 04:47 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Given rents in NYC, I can't say I blame the guy.

Surely, living in the library helped his grades, but it must have been hell on his social life. Puts a whole new spin on the old "your place or mine?" problem.
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Old 04-28-2004, 04:58 AM   #17 (permalink)
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The cheapest I got was moving my car around. In college, it was like $100 a month for parking. So I would just move it around to select parking lots. I started to get a good feel of how the ticket police walked around, and when they did it. I got it down to 2 tickets a month, about $15 each; which is much cheaper than the $100 a month parking. But, it does take a toll on you, worrying about your car and if its ok. I'm sure this guy was the same way.
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Old 04-28-2004, 05:22 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Cool story. I remember my advisor telling about this kid he knew when he went to college. The guy lived out of his car for almost an enitre year, becoming sort of a folk hero on campus.

I wouldn't mind living in the library or a car, as long as I had a place for my computer...
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Old 04-28-2004, 04:55 PM   #19 (permalink)
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It's as good as "Walden." And probably only equally as true. Thoreau regularly visited friends in town to clean up, get a hot meal, or winter over a tough storm. If you have a support structure, making some choices like that really don't lead to much risk. It's the people who go out there WITHOUT the safety net who are really taking risks.

That doesn't diminish the literary quality of "simplify, simplify," however. Fiction is sometimes better than life.
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Old 04-28-2004, 07:20 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Awesome story. It gets so hot here in CA that you will find many a student sleeping outside on the grass near the classroom buildings. Doesn't hurt to get a nice nap in before class.
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Old 04-28-2004, 07:49 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by jam161
wait??? how do you donate plasma... you get money?? sounds like my kind of job... fill me in
its not really worth your time unless you do not do ANYTHING else.. it takes 2-3 hours(sometimes 4 or 5) i had good experiences with it for the first month or 2 but then i got a bunch of idiots sticking me and missing the vein(OMFG that hurts like a bitch) i quit going because it just was not worth my time, pain & track marks anymore.

aventis bio services is where i went... they do not have that many locations.
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