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Dear Emmanuel: The Students Have Spoken

Editor’s Note: It has been brought to my attention that the presentation of the survey results may be misleading because there were two surveys. Only the first survey required students to leave a name with their comments because we do not publish anonymously. The second survey was purely analytical so no names were necessary. If you have any further questions on the matter, please email myself at mathesona@emmanuel.edu.

The City of Boston officially approved plans to reconstruct Julie Hall beginning this May. Despite this approval and coverage from various media outlets around the city, Emmanuel College has yet to formally tell students about the construction.

The Hub, therefore, decided to conduct a survey to determine how students feel about this project, what they know, and what questions they have. This survey is in no way affiliated with the college itself. This survey was created, sorted through, and organized completely and solely by the Hub. The purpose of the survey was to allow opportunity for students to express their opinions.

For a complete list of comments made in the survey, the Hub has created an excel sheet of all of the responses received here: Julie Hall Comments.

Emmanuel College is planning to build a 19 story building beginning in May 2016 and aiming to finish by August 2018. What is your overall feeling towards this project?

Emmanuel College is planning to build a 19 story building beginning in May 2016 and aiming to finish by August 2018. What is your overall feeling towards this project?

First, students were asked to describe the benefits they see regarding this project.

Caroline Lussier ’17 says, “Housing for more students on campus that is apartment style would be great! It would also increase opportunities for people to be RAs and save some money.”

“The new residence hall will provide room for growth in the EC undergraduate population as well as create better living conditions for students. I already have concerns about housing in the future due to the size of my class, and I think that Emmanuel definitely needs to expand their housing.” -Lucille DiNaro ’19

Jon O’Brien ’18 thinks, “This project will be a great way for Emmanuel to become more recognizable in the Boston area as a school that is flourishing and growing more and more by the year. This project will allow Emmanuel to remain an educational gem in the Boston area by allowing more prospective students to be able to attend Emmanuel with the expanded residential space.”

In regards to concerns about the project he adds, “I’m not going to make any judgments regarding housing during the construction of this new dorm until the administration releases an official announcement and a full plan for students to the student body which I have full faith that they will do with a project of this magnitude.”

Overall, students collectively agreed that the school could benefit from more classrooms, expanded housing, and a larger cafeteria. While many were able to see benefits in the idea, a majority felt disconnected from having a part in the project itself.

Lussier admits, “Administrators at this school would do well to get in touch with the student body. Some staff and faculty here are really involved but when the people who actually make decisions about Emmanuel communicate poorly, students interests aren’t taken into consideration.”

“What is the displacement protocol for students that are supposed to be guaranteed housing for all 4 years? Being an athlete, off campus housing isn’t the best option for me,” confesses Abby Merrigan ’17.

“I’m concerned about the noise construction would be causing on a daily basis. Obviously, I’m also worried about there being a shortage of dorms and thus, more forced triples. My question is, how necessary is expansion needed?” Christopher Moore ’19 asks.

“One of the main reasons I chose to attend Emmanuel was because of the guaranteed four-year housing, and I’m concerned about how I will be accommodated during the reconstruction period,” says Lauren Cullinane ’17.

Just like Cullinane, numerous students express concerns about the school’s plans for its current students.

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Despite these concerns about the future of on-campus housing, most students are somewhat satisfied with the current options.

Elizabeth Parchinskya ’19 is a commuter who cannot afford to live on campus. She explains, “Not living at school negatively affects my social life and my grades, since my long commute limits the time I can spend at school.” She is greatly concerned that the tuition will go up even more than it usually does as a result of the construction.

For Mylinh Tran ’18, this situation is serious enough to have her considering transferring.

“I’m concerned that Emmanuel has no plans to relocate any of the students who live there or planned on living there,” Tran says. “Did Emmanuel even ask students if they wanted the reconstruction of Julie’s Hall in the first place? I unfortunately can’t look for off campus housing because Boston is an incredibly expensive city to live in. I currently live in St. Joe’s now, but with the limited housing options, the raffle for housing is going to be more tense then ever. Might just be easier to transfer.”

Tran is not alone either. Several students suggested transferring as a result of just hearing a rumor about this project.

“This will effect me because I cannot afford to find off campus housing and if I can’t get housing then I will be forced to transfer. I think a lot of students will be forced to transfer.” -Eliza Woodman ’18

Tran adds that after all, “Students are the main reason why Emmanuel exists in the first place.”

“This significantly affects me in a negative way,” Marisa Ratte ’18 says. “This forces me to not only stress and question my future living arrangements but now be put under pressure to find off campus housing in a limited amount of time. I feel as if I have no other options and Emmanuel College had done a poor job at communicating to its students.”

For Megan F. ’17, the situation is much more personal:

“I came to Emmanuel partially because I had nowhere else to live. It was come here or be homeless. Housing is a massive element not only for me, but for a lot of other students. I’m not well enough to commit to any employment right now, because I can’t guarantee to be able to attend a job consistently without passing out, having a seizure, having to go to the hospital, etc. So to mess with something as key as housing strikes me as incredibly selfish and ignorant of the students’ needs.”

Devin Gilmore ’18 the Executive Vice President of the SGA, reports that the idea for Julie Hall was actually presented to them at the beginning of the year by Sister Janet.

“Since I don’t agree with this plan much, I felt it was too late for my input to make a difference.” Gilmore says. “It seemed she was looking for ideas about how to expand or validate the project, not about whether or not it was right for the students. Therefore, I mostly kept quiet. I think administration should have asked students about their thoughts prior to developing the idea enough that it was already in motion for approval from the city. It discourages students from feeling their ideas are being considered and honestly I don’t think any negative feedback would have changed their minds by that point, let alone now.”

Some students think that too often the same students are approached by administration regarding matters such as these.

Brooke Sylvia ’18 thinks that “Emmanuel tries to get the opinions of their students; however many times it is the opinions of students who are involved on campus. Though I don’t have a solution I believe it would be beneficial to incorporate more students opinions.”

Megan Pachico ’18 just wants a little communication. “I wouldn’t have gone to Emmanuel if I wasn’t guaranteed housing, it was a huge deciding factor at every school I was interested in. This plan didn’t just pop up overnight and the school should have at least mentioned it to prospective students.”

“While I’ve done my best to keep up with the progress through the Hub and other sources, I think that Emmanuel needs to issue an official statement to students and explicitly spell out how this is going to happen and what it means for students,” says Christian Kelly ’17. “I think that there is a large communication gap between the administration and the students that needs to be closed or else Emmanuel will suffer.”

Anastasia Yogas ’16 thinks Emmanuel will lose one of its best qualities. “The Emmanuel aesthetic (Hogwarts)/ historical feel of the campus could be dramatically under minded and destroyed by a ‘hi-tech’ building. I chose Emmanuel for its small, cozy and historical ‘New England’ feel- I wasn’t looking for a ‘campus of the future.'”

So, what could Emmanuel do to improve communication with its students?

These are the ways in which students receive news on-campus.

These are the ways in which students receive news on-campus.

Yogas suggests, “Utilize the campus wide email system. Time and time again Emmanuel is hesitant to use this outlet to communicate with students. Emmanuel tends to rely solely on the Portal, which seems outdated when there’s an alternative and instant method of communication with the entire student body (email). Emmanuel has communicated poorly the proposed changes and more importantly, the impact of students. Housing selection is quickly approaching and students have many questions/concerns.”

“Inter-department communication in the administration needs desperate improvement,” says Emily Penta ’16. “I’ve had financial services and human resources refer me back and forth to each other for a simple question I had that neither could not answer. I also think more surveys about creating new courses need to be accessible to ALL students, not just a handful of favored admissions ambassadors invited to give input at meetings. I, and many others, would love to see gender studies courses implemented in Gen. Ed. requirements but we have no way of communicating that.”

Molly Bourne ’19 on the other hand has faith in Emmanuel. “Nothing should change. I feel very supported on campus.”

Erin Bonfiglio, an alumni, believes, “Students need to realize the overall impact rather than the immediate inconvenience.”

“This construction project has been a rumor and mysterious for so long why not come out and announce it? Get people excited,” -John Slattery ’19.

“At this moment, I’m feeling as if the foundation I’ve put high regards in is slowly crumbling around me.” -Elanna Abreu ’18

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“Emmanuel does try hard to communicate with students – but as always students feel concerned when they are not part of the planning process. Simply put: students need to be involved from the beginning.” -Anthony Andronico, Alumni

In conclusion, students feel that the school would benefit from having a forum where they may ask questions and learn more about the project. Moving forward, there are many questions. As many brought up in the survey, what is going to happen? Where will students go? What will happen to the senior week tradition? What does this mean for RAs and as Rachel Aiello ’16 questions, “What’s going to happen to our beloved DA Alissa and other great staff!?” There are many questions to be answered. There are many details to be figured out.

A forum for students is in the works. More information will follow regarding when and where that will be.

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The affiliation of survey responders to Emmanuel College.

The Hub had a total of 382 responses to the survey. The graph shows who specifically took the time to respond.

The Hub would like to thank all who participated and shared their thoughts on the matter.

For more information on the project itself, please visit the Boston Redevelopment Authority website.

Heather Alterisio ’17 is a Staff Writer for the Hub. She can be contacted at alterisioh@emmanuel.edu or on Twitter @HeathAlt.

Posted by on February 1, 2016. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.