Man vs Campus: With Sam Soppet

Man vs Campus: With Sam Soppet

Critic’s solution to the cost of living crisis

The challenge: seven days, 0.22 square kilometers, one Critic office couch (now my bed). Is it doable? Probably. Will it suck? Absolutely. With the Critic office as my home base and staying within main campus bounds (between Clyde, Cumberland, Albany, Dundas), I aimed to answer the question that nobody asked: can you live on campus for a week without leaving? 

To make sure things weren’t too easy (spoiler: nothing was), whenever I wanted to leave the constraints of what we’d deemed “campus”, I had to carry the spare Critic door with me. Once a beer pong surface, now my ball and chain. There were also “lifelines” in play (earned by completing my editor’s sick little games) including a box, Uber Eats, phone-a-friend, and a doorless day. The final, and arguably the worst, rule was that I was not allowed to use the same bathroom twice, with the exception of the one next to the Critic office, from the hours of 8pm-6am. This was shit. 

Day ONE - Tuesday
I woke up at 7am. Not a terribly early start, it could be worse. I covered the 3 Ss (shit, shower, shave), then waited, suitcase in hand, ready to be ferried to the Critic office — my new home for the next week. It felt a bit claustrophobic from the get go, sort of like those 24 hours in IKEA or Bunnings videos, but for 168 hours (give or take a few). It's sort of like when Andy Dufresne first enters Shawshank, except I hadn’t killed anyone (...yet). I dumped my shit in the office and went to my lectures, with this weird feeling over me; I felt simultaneously so at peace and like I was going to be sick. My second class was in the Hunter Centre, out of agreed campus bounds, which invoked the first rule: The Door. The door is too wide to tuck under an arm, it doesn't have fixed handles, and with the day being quite a windy one, it made it overall a bit of a prick of a thing to control. Almost taking out several small children and elderly people had me seriously reconsidering my role in this rather silly quest, but I got it done. Have you ever had to carry a door through a door? Finally I was home: the Critic couch. 

DAY TWO - Wednesday
At some ungodly hour I was woken by the cleaners coming through the office. They were quite quiet, but the front door squeaked, and it did startle me a wee bit. But after that I fell back to sleep, courtesy of the three warm blankets normally reserved for midday naps that I had layered on top of me. Unsure if or when the office blankets were last washed, however. I initially woke up at 7, but figured I had nowhere to be, so I moved it to 8 and rolled back over, only to have to wake up and repack my suitcase. After all, this isn't a bedroom – this is an office. I was interviewed by Radio One at around 8:45am and got called a “nutter", which in all honesty is a fair observation. Lectures unremarkable; went to OUSA Market Day, which was quite nice but bloody hot. Really felt it due to the no showering thing. Called my doorless day (struck off from the lifelines on the Critic whiteboard) ‘cos fuck taking that to a POLSA meeting. 

Critic’s weekly print night yielded some pizza, at least. We headed to pint night for a bit, then I came back to the office to sleep on the couch. Phone-a-friend was fruitless, as for some reason coworkers were hesitant to spend the night at work. Unfortunately, someone had locked the office bathroom door (so I couldn't go in the one I was allowed to use at night) and I had to go into the Link, which meant gradually moving up the pint night line. I kept getting called over by people in the line I happened to know, and during every conversation I tried to make it obvious I just needed to piss. Eventually made it to the Link bathroom, and god did it feel good. I then headed back to the office and conked out.

DAY THREE - Thursday
At 1am, awoken by some dude in Hi Vis yelling from the balcony at his mate below. I woke up properly at around 8am, got up and started getting ready for my lectures and tutorials. Honestly, I rate the Critic couch – there were three to choose from, but the big one by the window is peak. By this point, I think the severity of the weekend to come was settling in. Campus is busy during the week, but on the weekend it’s a fucking ghost town – something that kicked in when I recalled all the times (or lack thereof) when I’d gone in to finish a big assignment. Interviewed a guy about someone who robbed his flat and swore they were a vampire (catch it in issue 3). Pretty calm day, aside from the sound of my work-life balance slowly withering. Finished the night off with a bit of Outrageous Fortune on the work PCs and buggered off to couch-bed.

DAY FOUR - Friday
By far the worst day of them all. It felt like some weird freemason-esque humiliation ritual, and god was it awful. Donned the Critic Cone costume at 1200 hours for some sweet rewards. The onus (or cone-us) of journalism called. At an Instagram commentor’s suggestion, I had to hit the griddy (IN A ROAD CONE COSTUME) from Burns to St Daves. While filmed. It was as fucking bad as you’d think. My timing couldn't have been worse; there were so many damned people. In the immortal words of myself, immediately after: “I have nothing left. I feel like the peanut butter jelly guy. I need to be shot by cops and saved by Snoop Dogg.” Have I truly sold my soul for clout? Am I just a slightly more morally acceptable Jack Doherty? What have I become? Following selling my soul for a stupid video, I had some people over (to the office) for pres before the AVDK gig at U-Bar, where I saw out the rest of Day 4 – and the earlier hours of Day 5.

DAY FIVE - Saturday
I woke up really late, like midday. Poor form, I know, but it's the weekend and I really don’t have anywhere to be. After wandering campus for what felt like an eternity (it was probably like two hours) I returned to my abode, bored out of my fucking mind. This point may have been my absolute lowest. I felt like how you'd imagine a dog at the SPCA would feel: sort of boxed in, no real engagement with the outside world. It was pretty mega-cringe, to be fair. Too many loud noises later on after dark, so I didn't get to sleep ‘til 3am due to the fresher stragglers coming back from town and the Taking Back Saturday Night gig at U-Bar. 

DAY SIX - Sunday
I woke up several times during the night, which meant that I only got out of bed (off the couch) at 1pm. [Editor’s note: Also known as when I came into the office to check on him.] God damn, that is heinous for me. I started thinking about my bed, about sleeping on a real mattress, and not having to deal with the weird ass noises this building emits in the early hours. Also, there was a fucking helicopter. Can someone just make a quiet one already? Feels like it shakes the whole goddamned building. I threw in the towel partway through Day 6. Does that make me a quitter? Yep, but I’m more than okay with that. Ceebs.


You may be thinking, “This was fucking stupid – it wasn’t even the full challenge.” And you would be correct. It was stupid, it was awful, and I don’t think it's something that anyone will ever repeat. But that’s what Critic does: asks the stupid questions, only to answer our own stupid questions with somehow stupider answers. Decent couch, though.