Ain't no dormitory high enough

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • September 4, 2013

At Issue: Emerson hopes to build a new dorm on Boylston Place

Our Take: A good first step in guaranteeing more on-campus housing

If you’re reading this from your fifth-floor Cambridge “apartment” with its fake fireplace and assorted kitsch from Sunday’s Allston Christmas, after enduring a 40-minute ride on the Green Line to and from school — Emerson is working on a solution for more on-campus housing, although it’ll probably be too late for you.

But if you’re an underclassman living in a spacious Piano Row suite with an unparalleled view of the Common — you’re in luck.

New plans to build an additional residence hall housing 407 students have been announced, with construction slated to begin in spring 2014. This new space will offer temporary housing to Little Building residents as that building undergoes renovations in summer 2014. The additional space provided by the new building, to be located at 1-3 Boylston Place, will not prompt an increase in enrollment, but offer more available housing for transfer students, upperclassmen, and other students now forced to live off-campus because of current limitations in our residence halls’ capacities.

With nearly half the student body moving off campus after their sophomore years, Emerson lacks an overarching sense of community that many other institutions of higher education seem to have. This is a sense of community that cannot be gained through once-a-week meetings, occasional run-ins at Boloco, and a mutual disdain for Suffolk, but rather, a place we can all call home. With this new dormitory, more students will be able to have the full four-year college experience — allowing for a true college community at Emerson. 

Incoming transfer students could find the struggle to find last-minute, off-campus housing relieved with the expansion. It costs $300 to be put on a waitlist for transfer housing at Emerson and it’s a poor investment if you’re a spring transfer with little-to-no possibility of housing. It is hard enough to integrate into a new school, and even more isolating to live off-campus. Despite the varied overall costs of Boston apartments, the difference in convenience between a two-mile walk and a two-flight walk can mean a lot to a busy student.  

For students accustomed to a six-building campus that — situated adjacently — would span less than a city block, the inconvenience of living off-campus is a major issue. Being off-campus requires several lifestyle changes, including adjusting to an increased time spent commuting and scheduling classes in blocks of time maximizing junctures spent on campus. And although Emerson officially estimates that the cost of living off-campus is comparable to living in dorms, financial aid subsidies for housing can’t always be transferred when students move away from the Common.

Although it’s fun to pick out new furniture, having HBO, and argue with your landlord over whether that hole in the wall was there before you moved in, that can wait until after graduation.