Student: Bring in the noise

by Beacon Staff • November 1, 2006

Those who not living in the dormitories have had to get creative when looking for a place to go in between classes. With the sale of the West Side of campus went the designated off-campus student lounge, and now three Emerson students are petitioning for a new one.

Silas Lesnick, a senior film major at Emerson, started by broadcasting his views on Emerson's LiveJournal community.

"This is a symptom of a greater 'out of sight and out of mind' policy Emerson seems to have toward off-campus students," Lesnick wrote in his LiveJournal message.

The only space currently available for off-campus students is a quiet study lounge on the second floor of the Piano Row Residence Hall.

Dean of Students Ronald Ludman said the lounge was not created specifically for off-campus students.

Kathryn Keiter, a junior audio radio major, Dan Stangle, a junior film major, and Lesnick met with Ludman Oct. 23. They asked for the establishment of an off-campus student lounge without noise restrictions.

"We shouldn't have to sit in silence and they shouldn't be bothered by us," Keiter said.

Ludman said there was no space created specifically for any such group on campus, including off-campus students. He said the campus center was designed to accommodate anyone in the Emerson community and that it should integrate on- and off-campus students.

Sharon Duffy, associate dean of students, said the rooms in Piano Row are available for student functions.

"The quiet lounge came about as a result of students saying they wanted a quiet and comfortable place to read, study and congregate between classes," Duffy said in an to the Beacon.

The LiveJournal message Lesnick posted on Oct. 20 has thus far received 27 comments from students agreeing with the proposal.

There have been other threads posted to update readers on the progress of the lounge.

"During this meeting, we felt that we were treated as a small, special-interest club and not the majority of students that we really are," Keiter wrote in one entry.

Tom Wilhelm, a sophomore media production major who lives in Beacon Hill, said a lounge designed specifically for students who do not live in the dorms would bring the community together better than a quiet study area.

"It's a great idea," said Sarah Henderson, a sophomore writing, literature and publishing major who lives off campus. "I would love to have a place where I could meet other off-campus students."

Though there are no plans for an off-campus room, Ludman said the building is not yet complete and that amenities will be added to make the building more inviting to students, faculty and staff.

Among these additions will be an electronic message monitor that will be placed at the front of the building displaying meetings and announcements on campus.

Monitors for public television viewing will also be added.

"We want to provide a host for meeting and greeting where students, regardless of where they live, can hang out," Ludman said.

While off-campus students may not always be visible, Duffy said they are still an important factor on campus.

"I see the off-campus student population as being a vibrant and valued population," Duffy said. "It is very easy for off-campus students to remain and feel connected to the community, but it takes effort on everyone's part."

Wilhelm said he enjoys living off campus and hopes a lounge would improve the experience.

"Being in college is like living in a bubble," Wilhelm said. "Being off campus allows you to experience college and Boston, which is what Emerson is all about."