To Dorm or Not to Dorm? Emmanuel’s Question

Why do so many Emmanuel College students look to live off campus?

“It sucks,” stated Madison Healey, a 19 year old student at Emmanuel.

“It’s very unfair,” agreed her friend Amy Hurst, also a sophomore at the college.

Healey and Hurst are not the only Boston college students who desire to live off campus. 26% of the 136,000 college students in the city live off campus. This number excludes the 8,000 students on co-op at Northeastern University.

It’s not merely that dorm living is too expensive or strict for students’ liking, as Healey bluntly put. At most schools there is just no room for all of the students. There are 454 students enrolled at Emmanuel that there is no room for in the dorms. But that’s a generous number compared to the dorming gap at other nearby colleges and universities. According to the US Department of Education, there are 13,505 students who cannot fit inside Boston University housing. Northeastern University doesn’t have room for 10,654 of their students, and 5,738 have no guaranteed housing at Suffolk University.  Very few of the Boston schools actually have room for their student body.

Inevitably, this means that many students have to look to live in off campus apartments. But are the living conditions in these apartments always safe? In recent years, city officials have been trying to tackle the massive problem of student housing in this city. Landlords know that students are vulnerable clients, and often take advantage of their wallets. It’s almost impossible to find actually affordable rent in Boston. Students are crammed into spaces not large enough for them, creating incredibly hazardous conditions. Rats, bed bugs, broken appliances, wonky heating systems, and un-lockable doors are found in apartments all over neighborhoods like Allston, Mission Hill, and Brighton. But often times nothing is done about this.

Elias Baker is a 21 year old sharing a three story house with sixteen other young adults in Jamaica Plain.  When asked if his apartment had ever been inspected, he swiftly answered no. “It’s a non-legal operation so he likes cash…It’s not zoned to be apartment building.” Baker explained. He pointed up at the ceiling to a dangling fire detector.

Most students at Emmanuel recognize that on campus living is very safe. “I do feel it is very safe on campus, I will give them that,” said Hurst. As a gated community with a desk worker at every entrance and an ID required to open doors, it is hard to imagine many dangers occurring at Emmanuel College. But for a lot students, this security often feels smothering.

“I feel like you have no privacy when you live in the dorms,” said sophomore Brittany Aubuchon. “Like when I lived in Loretto, they would ask to search my bag even on nights I was just coming back from the library.”

Aubuchon and Hurst say they will probably still live in the dorms next year, but Healey wants out. “I am planning to move off campus. I want my own space, and I want more freedom…I feel like there’s a lot of reasons,” she explained. “I feel like I got the experience, and that was cool, but now I’m tired of it. It’s like a step towards being an adult.”

Many do leap at the chance to feel like a ‘real adult’ in this city, with a cool apartment to do whatever they please in. But for some, being a college kid in the dorms is fun and fine for them. Hopefully for those happy students, their school has room for them.


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