Sasaki Associates meets with student government

by Frankie Olito / Beacon Staff • October 4, 2012

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Representatives from Sasaki Associates attended this weeks SGA meeting.
Representatives from Sasaki Associates attended this weeks SGA meeting.

Student Government Association members stressed the need for more dining and study space at Emerson during a discussion with design planning firm Sasaki Associates, Inc. on Tuesday. 

Three members from the firm President M. Lee Pelton has hired to develop a strategic plan at Emerson attended the weekly meeting at the request of Tau Zaman, SGA president. The informal table conversation focused on what SGA members described as an overcrowded downtown campus. 

Ricardo Dumont, a principal at Sasaki Associates, Inc, said the firm is working with Emerson to complete a six month master plan. For the first two months, the firm will communicate with students through the interactive website MyCampus to prioritize concerns.

Sasaki Associates, Inc — a Watertown-based firm founded 60 years ago — works on urban and campus design projects, according to Dumont. Previous projects include 2008 Beijing Olympics and the University of Maine’s master plan. 

Pelton said in an email to the Emerson community on Sept. 18 that the firm was hired to develop a plan that will focus on long-term goals and short-term priorities. 

The SGA executive board said its five main issues are growth of the faculty, students, and space, communication between academic departments, the quality of on-campus and off-campus student life, the lack of a campus identity, and the need to restore the Little Building. 

Zaman emphasized the lack of communal space on campus. 

“The college is expanding its student body, but we don’t have the resources to support the current student body,” Zaman said.

Other SGA members said they want a bigger library with longer hours, more space dedicated to organizations, and a dining hall with more places to sit.

“I’d love a 24-hour space where off-campus students could stay and not have to worry about being kicked off campus,” said Caitlin Higgins, SGA vice president. 

Jenna McPadden, class of 2013 president, said Emerson struggles with its identity, stating that the banners lining the campus’ main buildings are useless. 

“We look like every other building on the street,” said the senior marketing communication and writing, literature, and publishing double major. “Why don’t we use the space where the art is on the scaffolding to have a giant Emerson logo?”

Dumont said he agrees that Emerson lacks an identity.

“You guys have moved around a lot,” he said. “All the buildings you’re using were never created for Emerson. It’s hard to come up with a coherent identity.”

Nicholas de la Canal, class of 2015 president, said the college ignores the problems that currently face the school’s Boston campus.

“Some students feel that [the] administration is focusing too much on external programs and not enough on on-campus renovations,” said the sophomore journalism major. 

Ben Halls, class of 2014 senator, said he agrees.

“It’s a strange feeling when we see millions of dollars spent on an LA campus when our washers are broken and the DH has mice,” Halls said.

The Sasaki representatives said the SGA’s initiatives are in line with the issues Pelton sees. They told the SGA to speak with students about the master plan and learn about what they see as problems with the college.