The college will convert all eight-person suites in the Piano Row residence hall back to six-person suites as of summer 2019, to follow the completion of the Little Building.
The eight-person suites are part of a two-year plan to house first-year students while the 101-year-old Little Building undergoes renovations. Associate Director of Housing Operations Seth Hodge said the college’s maintenance crew conversion will take a few weeks after they begin early in the summer. The conversion will include licensed plumbers, electricians, and carpenters.
The college transformed several suites on the odd-numbered floors in Piano Row into eight–person suites during summer 2017. Associate Dean for Campus Life Erik Muurisepp said contractors installed walls with doors in 40 dorm common rooms, adding a total of 80 beds for incoming students.
“We will be housing all first-year students in the Little Building, and that’s intentional to build that community,” Muurisepp said.
Hodge said the renovated Little Building will house about 1,000 beds, given that the freshman class is generally around 900 students.
“There are going to be additional spots in the building, and we’re still finalizing what all of that will look like,” Hodge said.
The college plans to include all freshman learning communities like Film Immersion, Performing Cultures, and Writer’s Block in
the Little Building. Hodge said the extra space will allow students who have previously lived in themed communities to re-apply and to be housed in that learning community again.
There will be other rooms open for students to select, unrelated from any learning community. Hodge said the Little Building is a more traditionally styled hall—with shared bathrooms for each floor and double dorm rooms that lead into the hallway—and some students may be interested in this setting.
The residency requirement changed to a three-year plan starting with all first-year students who entered Emerson in 2017.
“We want to give students as much opportunity as possible to be able to create their community the way they want it to look,” Hodge said. “But we are definitely exploring the possibility of having maybe a floor or two that are designated towards sophomore or junior in case people are interested in that.”
Sophomore Jessica Costas lived in a converted common room, or an 8-person suite, in Piano Row last year.
Costas chose to have randomly selected suitemates and listed the Piano Row residence hall as her third choice of residence halls while filling out her housing application before her freshman year.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to live with eight people, cause it like seems awful, but you have to make it work,” Costas said. “I think that’s a part of learning to live with people. You just have to make it work and eventually, it will.”
Muurisepp said that about 70 percent of the student body will be on-campus with the new three-year residency requirement.
“We always want as many people as possible in the community,” Muurisepp said.