Sometimes I feel like a ghost walking through campus.

At a university where most students graduate in four years or less, being a fifth-year senior is a bit of an oddity. (I got this title due to a yearlong medical leave following a serious car accident I was involved in.) When I began to think about why campus started to feel so strange after last May, I realized it was because so many of our friends come from our freshman dorm or at least our graduating class. Think about yourself and your friends at Duke and guess the percentage of close friends that are in the same class as you - I bet it's more than 50 percent. Now that over half my friends have left the Gothic Wonderland for greener pastures, less and less of my time is spent on campus.

For many of my friends at other schools - mostly state ones - taking varying amounts of time to graduate isn't an infrequent occurrence, and neither is living with people a few years older or younger than you off-campus. These differences have caused me to think about social engineering here.

Few people would argue against the all-freshman East Campus now, but when it was first implemented in 1995, it was really controversial. Many upperclassmen believed it would herald the end of mixed-year social life at Duke, would reduce living choices for upperclass students and would screw over sophomores by forcing many of them to live in Trent. A March 10, 1995, letter to the editor from Carter Murray said, "[The housing policy] represents everything that is wrong with this university." Sound familiar?

The current debate features an extension of the freshman living experience to sophomores on West Campus and a group of angry, screwed over juniors, living on Central Campus or using their only year away from campus to take up residence in the Belmont or off East. Even though I realize that someone looking back through The Chronicle archives in 10 years will probably think I'm crazy for questioning the policies of placing sophomores on West, forcing people to live on campus for three years and only allowing sophomores to room with other sophomores, I can't help but do it.

Like most Dukies - I loved my experience on East freshman year. It's so much easier to meet people when you know everyone is in the same boat as you. Every meal, every ride on the bus to West becomes an opportunity to make a friend. But, when freshman year ended, I was ready to move on. East served its purpose, and I decided I hated dorm rooms and would rather chew off my right arm than live in a tiny room with another person and no bathroom again. So I found a junior who I really liked and who didn't mind uping my chances of receiving a Central Campus apartment, which we did at 1712 Pace St.

When I returned from medical leave, I moved into an apartment far off campus. This apartment has been my residence for two years now, and I've loved it. My washer/dryer and dishwasher are honestly two of my favorite possessions and make life so much easier. Living here was the right decision for me.

I didn't mind that the choice of where to live was taken away from me freshman year - after all, I hadn't even lived on campus yet. Following that year, though, I was incredibly thankful I had the ability to choose my living situation.

If I had lived under the new undergraduate policies, I'm afraid that an even larger percentage of my friends would have been from my graduating class, and I'd have even fewer people to hang out with now. And even though I've made a lot of new friends this year, there's no way I could make up for what I lost.

The fact that I felt like I lived my senior year last year allowed me to open other doors this year, such as throwing myself more fully into Recess without the distractions of senior parties and goodbyes. So to next year's few and proud fifth-year seniors, make new friends, find something you love and devote yourself to it and enjoy all the extra time you have.

Meg would like to thank her mom, dad and grandparents for everything and Beakers, Emmy, Nanner and Alice for being the best friends a girl could ask for. You guys are the best!