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Homeless on Purpose

Being homeless is one thing most of us avoid at all costs, but not this college student. Shane Dussault, a philosophy major at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, chooses to be homeless voluntarily:

Inside one of Shane Dussault’s backpacks is a laptop, a small bag of tools, a bag of electronics, and an ultra-absorbent compressed towel the size of a washcloth. In the other is a kettle, food supplies such as olive oil, fruit, cheese and bread, and a bag of toiletries. His other three possessions are a down mat, a sleeping bag, and a “bivy bag,” which is a large Gore-Tex sack.

Shane is a U1 Philosophy student at McGill, and has been homeless since July. He lives on campus, using its facilities like most of us use different rooms in a house. He eats his meals in student lounges and does push-ups in the library. He showers at the gym and stashes extra socks in convenient hiding spots. He won’t say where – he guards his possessions closely.

He also sleeps outside year round, on campus in the winter and on the mountain in the summer. Again, for his own safety and privacy, he doesn’t disclose where. Every morning, he packs up his gear and begins another typical student day – he walks to class, takes notes on his mini Acer laptop in lecture, and logs long hours in the library to stay on top of his courses. (You can usually find him in Blackader Lauterman, the Art History library in Redpath). At the end of the day, he returns to his spot and sets up again, completing what must be the shortest commute in McGill history. On the weekends, when he visits friends or goes to parties, he’s careful not to drink too much – alcohol slows the blood’s circulation, something Shane can’t risk while sleeping outside in February. And the strangest part? He does it all by choice.

Is he really homeless or is he just camping? Link - via Metafilter


@idunnoifishouldbother:

He and his parents aren't paying for his room and board at the university. They're paying for his tuition, unless it's all just in student loans at the moment. To live in residence costs a lot extra. While he has use of the athletic facilities to shower, the showers are meant for people using the gym, etc... And he seems to be exercising in the library for some strange reason.

Real homeless people don't have options like this. Labelling his antics as homelessness is a slap in the face to people who are actually suffering.
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While I agree that he's useless (I had a number of friends do this in college... no one bothered writing articles about them 8 years ago).

But "Someone else pays for the facilities and their upkeep." Is a really poor argument. Yeah, someone is paying for it.... HE (or his parents) are paying for it. With his tuition.
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It's an interesting exercise but that's about it...homeless means desperate and unable to afford a place to sleep...that's pretty fundamental to human existence so it's a pretty precarious place to find yourself. That's not what this fellow is experiencing however it's probably pretty useful from the standpoint of gaining some insight into the feelings of true homeless people. Here's hoping he doesn't mistake it for the real thing and start toting an attitude that he's down with the underclass...
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I would have said the strangest part was his hair.

He is a philosophy student, so acting homeless now will prepare him for his inevitable future life. Kinda like a co-op course.
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I'd say he's less "homeless" and more "a student enrolled at McGill who chooses to sleep outside." Sort of a nutty crazy thing that college kids do. Like my brother...who didn't wear shoes his entire first year...ever...in very northern Vermont.
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@Jason123 your "urban outdoorsman" sounds like the classic description of a hobo.

The guy is not "homeless". He is a leech. Someone else pays for the facilities and their upkeep. If he truly wanted to be homeless he would have to ditch a lot of things that a homeless person would consider a luxury.
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I was just wondering earlier today, though – if this guy gets mail, what address is it sent to?

Maybe student mailboxes? I don't know if they have them at McGill, but I always had them through college and grad school.
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I have a friend who did something similar. Except he lived in a tree house and used a Coleman camping stove to cook his meals.

Yes I would say he is "homeless" in a sense but as Jason123 stated he can get a home when or if he ever decides to and there's nothing preventing him from doing so.
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I live in Montreal and I went to McGill, and I came across this article last week.

This is a most intriguing story. I was just wondering earlier today, though - if this guy gets mail, what address is it sent to?
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Technically I'd say yes he is homeless but a huge part of the experience for a homeless person is the despair that comes from feeling powerless to control your situation. Shane can go get a roof over his head any time he wants.

Somewhat related to this are what I call the "urban outdoorsmen" who are those who aren't suffering from a mental or physical issue that prevents them from obtaining regular housing but rather have decided that they don't want to be part of mainstream society. They tend to wander from town to town and are quite able to work odd jobs when they need some cash. They also rarely smell like bodily waste and are able to hold somewhat reasonable conversation.

At first glance everyone living on the streets may appear to be the same but there are quite a few different subcultures out there. Perhaps Shane is part of a new one starting.
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