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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Editorial

Once again is the idea of dorms being bandied about, with Chancellor Collins discreetly discussing “living and learning communities” at the 2006 Convocation. Similar initiatives have in the past brooked controversy within both UMass-Boston itself and the surrounding community. Governor Romney met a 2003 proposal with an emphatic “No”, and that plan died there. But was it really dead? On-campus dorms have enticed many an administration, but usually any attempt to garner funding is met with strident opposition from the City of Boston or from the State itself. Then it’s back, however briefly, to stir up a ruckus and vanish again, our own campus version of Aunt Edna’s dog in “National Lampoon’s Vacation”. The Mass Media are in favor of the general idea of dorms, especially if they are part of a broader program, which includes new academic buildings. They’d suit suburban students well, foster a more cohesive campus identity, and bring revenue to the school and the surrounding area. The question is- Is our school ready? Let’s go over some of the reasons for and arguments against building them. The central and most pressing matter is that we need the new academic building Collins has mentioned before anything else is considered. Dorms must come as part of a package deal that includes a long-term parking solution and new buildings that will last. Dorms would in a small way ease the parking crunch, as there would be less students driving to and from school, but this effect would be slight. As a commuter school, most of our students are a train ride away. Some, however, face hour-long treks from the North Shore, and an on-campus living space would be a welcome development. As has been mentioned previously in the Mass Media, the closing of the garage has not made an easy row to hoe for these students. It was the main structure that allowed us to be a commuter campus. Immediate building costs are another consideration. Non-residents likely won’t pay much toward the cost of running them once they are up, but tuition will likely increase to cover the cost of construction. This affects those of us who will have graduated long before the dorms and new buildings are a concrete reality. How can costs be managed gracefully so that the short-timers do not face an undue burden? More complex still will be the physical changes to the campus, such as modifying student center hours and adding 24-hour services. Here though, there is promise. The new Campus Center has proven to be an effective hub for our student body, and more people-friendly facilities can only help. Students bemoan the sometimes cold campus atmosphere, where we show up to class and head home without making real connections with many of our classmates. It has been proven that having friends while in college boosts grades. Corny, but it’s true. With greater unity and friendship among the UMB community, people will do better in their classes. Positive attitudes about school enliven and encourage people. Speaking of people- Dorchester residents have very real, and reasonable, misgivings. Dorms in general do not have a good reputation, with campus life and all it entails (read: parties) and the potential for encroachment on the surrounding neighborhood causes for alarm. However, UMB students tend to be an older, more sober and serious lot than other local students. A group of a few thousand living on campus should not have an adverse effect on the neighborhood, but we must ensure a friendly and mutually beneficial dialogue with our neighbors. Dorms, should we build them, will not solve our problems. Building, and building well, our future, bolstering our curriculum, and staying true to the Urban Mission will. The difficulties facing our school are by no means insurmountable, but they are considerable- and they should be taken as a challenge. Our old buildings may be in disrepair, but the founding principles of our school remain sturdy, and worthy of instilment into the student body; service to our city and to each other.