Boston University Housing System
The Boston University housing system is the 2nd-largest of any private university in the United States, with 76% of the undergraduate population living on campus. On-campus housing at BU is an unusually diverse melange, ranging from individual 19th-century brownstone town houses and apartment buildings acquired by the school to large-scale high-rises built in the 60s and 2000s.
Though originally a commuter school, the University now guarantees the option of on-campus housing for four years for all undergraduate students. This is a challenge considering the size of BU's undergraduate population and its urban setting. BU has met this goal every year, often by using area hotels, though since fall 2009, with the completion of its new 960-bed 26-story dorm, the school says it has accommodated all students who wish to live on campus without using hotel space.
- 1 Housing versus Residence Life
- 2 Housing selection
- 3 Dining services
- 4 Large dormitories
- 5 Small dormitories, apartments, and suite style
- 6 Other housing locations
- 7 Specialty housing
- 8 Security
- 9 Capacity problems
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Housing versus Residence Life
Boston University operates residences collaboratively through Residence Life and Housing. While the two areas work collaboratively, each department reports to different areas of University leadership. Housing reports to the Vice President of Auxiliary Services and is centered on providing operational and occupancy management. Meanwhile, Residence Life is structured under the Associate Provost and Dean of Students and is centered on providing day-to-day student service, support, and programs based out of local Residence Life offices located near or within each residence.
Boston University Housing is based at 25 Buick St, and employs a number of full and part-time staff, as well as students who manage the many components that support Housing at Boston University.
Housing is responsible for the areas of Residential Safety, housing assignments, room changes, mail, keys (in coordination with local Residence Life offices), university-provided furnishings, appliances in university-owned residences, and the Terrier Card Office. Boston University Housing also works collaboratively with other departments across campus, such as Facilities Management & Planning, and within Auxiliary Services to coordinate laundry, vending, rentals, summer storage, dining services, vending services, and events & conferences.
The Residence Life team delivers a broad range of programs and services to students, including specialty communities, Residence Hall Associations, the Faculty-in-Residence program, crisis intervention, conflict mediation, enforcement of residential rules and regulations, and information about campus resources.
Residence Life is one of the few departments at the University with an on-call system that allows staff to be available to assist students, parents, and members of the University community 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.
Live-in Professional Staff
Residence Life employs 27 live-in workers at the "administrator" and "senior staff" level in the following roles:
- Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life
- Senior Associate Director of Residence Life
- Associate Director of Residence Life for Administration
- Associate Director of Residence Life for Student and Staff Development
- Assistant Director of Residence Life for Lower Bay State Road
- Assistant Director of Residence Life for South Campus
- Assistant Director of Residence Life for Upper Bay State Road
- Assistant Director of Residence Life for Upper Commonwealth Avenue
- Assistant Director of Residence Life for Warren Towers
- Assistant Director of Residence Life for West Campus
- Residence Hall or Area Directors
Every spring, returning students who have submitted a housing guarantee payment for the ensuing academic year are entered into a lottery to determine their priority in selecting housing. Priority is assigned within classes, with seniors receiving the lowest (best) numbers, and second-semester freshmen the highest. This means the "worst" senior number is always better than the best junior number, et cetera. Entering freshmen and transfer students are allocated housing based on an online housing questionnaire.
Boston University requires that all students living in dormitories be enrolled in a year-long meal plan. The plans offer differing ratios of meals and dining points, depending on which is chosen. Meals are used to gain access to one of the university’s three residential dining service locations on an all-you-can-eat basis (at West Campus, Warren Towers, and Marciano Commons) and dining points can be used at designated eateries around campus on a cash basis. A Kosher plan exists which can be used at the Kosher dining hall at the Hillel House.
Combined with housing costs, meal plans can cause room and board to be quite expensive. This has created a high demand for on-campus apartment housing, as the University does not require residents with access to a kitchen to purchase a plan (although they may if they so choose). However, the higher price of such housing often offsets any savings. In addition, the main dining halls offer large selections for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and "late night".
Myles Standish Hall
BU's first large dormitory was a former hotel. The Myles Standish Hotel in Kenmore Square was built in 1925 and was purchased by BU in 1949. Today Myles Standish Hall and the attached Myles Annex (a separate building purchased for housing in 1980 after the closure of Graham Junior College) together house over 730 students.
Myles is configured as a semi-suite residence. The typical suite consists of 2 single rooms and 1 double occupancy room sharing a bathroom.Common areas include group study rooms, music practice rooms, a community kitchen and a games room.
Kilachand Hall (previously named Shelton Hall), built as a Sheraton Hotel in 1923, was bought by BU and converted to dorm space in 1954. Playwright Eugene O'Neill died in suite 401 on the 4th floor of Kilachand Hall. In his honor, the 4th floor was named a specialty housing area called the Writer's Corridor. It is said that this corridor is haunted by the playwright. The building houses 418 residents. The ninth floor consists of a study lounge that provides an impressive view of Boston and the Charles River. The Kilachand Hall dining hall was closed after the 2011–2012 year when the new Marciano Commons opened.
The Towers is one of the three Boston University dormitories traditionally intended for freshmen and sophomores, the others being Warren Towers and West Campus. The building comprises two towers, each nine floors high and linked at ground level by a single story structure housing common facilities. It is located on the eastern end of campus, next to Wheelock College of Education and Human Development and behind the Questrom School of Business. It appeared in the movie 21 as the dormitory which housed MIT student Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess).
The largest dorm on campus, Warren Towers houses about 600 students in each of its three towers. Access to the building is via escalator to the fourth floor, where the building's dining hall and other amenities are located. The floors 5–18 are residential floors. The first three floors and basement house a University parking garage and street-level retail establishments.
Warren Towers is a mostly first-year student residence, though there is also significant retention of sophomores. The majority of rooms are identical double-occupancy floorplans, the exception being single rooms, the occasional quad, and the corner doubles. Corner doubles are almost twice the size of a standard double room and are coveted by those residents selecting housing in Warren.
At the western edge of campus surrounding BU’s Nickerson Field is West Campus, with three high-rises each housing well over 600 residents. They are named Claflin, Sleeper, and Rich hall after BU's founders. Residents of West generally prefer it over other locations and cite its "campusy" feel and proximity to the Student Village complex and other athletic facilities. Student athletes are abundant here, for that reason. CGS, CFA, and SHA students also tend to prefer living at West Campus, as it is the closest dormitory style residence to those three schools.
All the buildings provide students with a study room.
Often forgotten, Danielsen Hall actually demarcates the BU campus’ easternmost limit, at its 512 Beacon Street address. Danielsen residents eat at Marciano Commons, or another dining location. However, the dorm does have a kitchen located in the basement. Danielsen, while a bit of a distance from central campus, has the advantage of being closer to the city. Newbury Street, for example is just a few blocks away. The Boston University Shuttle (BUS) picks up in front of Danielsen regularly, making the distance to campus much more tolerable.
Small dormitories, apartments, and suite style
Bay State Road
Once an up-and-coming neighborhood of affluent Boston Brahmins, the majority of Bay State Road is now owned by Boston University for housing and office use. Due to their small size, the brownstones on Bay State are inherently suited for use as specialty housing, and many are used in this fashion.
When used as a dormitory, most of the Bay State Road residences are divided into double and triple rooms with some singles. Floors also consist of less than 10 students. Most houses have floors that share a bathroom, a room for the resident assistant on the ground floor, and laundry facilities in the basement. Some rooms have private bathrooms. While some of the houses are rather well-worn, BU has undertaken a project that each summer renovates selected residences to restore the Bay State Road houses to their 19th century appearance and ambience.
South Campus is a student residential area south of Commonwealth Avenue and separated from the main campus by the Massachusetts Turnpike. Some of the larger buildings in that area have been converted into dormitories, while the rest of the South campus buildings are apartments. All were originally constructed as commercial apartment buildings and later purchased by the University. Aside from the characteristic red plaques at their entrances, South Campus buildings are indistinguishable from the other private residences in the area. Since there are no central dining facilities in the South Campus area, students from these dormitories can dine at Warren Towers or other facilities on the main campus.
10 Buick Street
Boston University's principle apartment-style housing area is officially called 10 Buick Street, a part of the John Hancock Student Village project which includes the adjacent Fitness and Recreation Center and the Agganis Arena. Students most commonly refer to this residence as the "Student Village", or "StuVi" (pronounced stoo-vee) for short. The apartments at 10 Buick Street are open to juniors and seniors only, and house more than 800 students in apartments. Each apartment has either two or four private bedrooms, one or two common bathrooms (one for doubles, two for quads), a common living room, and a common kitchen.
The building has two towers that are connected up to the ninth floor and rise separately to 18 floors in West Tower and 15 floors in East tower. The West Tower has apartments on floors 1–17, the 18th floor is the Student Atrium with stunning views of Boston and the Charles River. The East Tower has residences on floors 2–15, with the 1st floor being a marketplace. The 10 Buick Street Market and Cafe, open from 7 a.m. to midnight daily, has a soup & salad bar, a small selection of household items, drinks and snacks, as well as sandwiches and bagels ready-to-order. The basement also provides amenities such as laundry, mailboxes, a study lounge, as well as numerous smaller study and music rooms.
In 2003, the Director of the Student Village, Laura De Veau, began publishing a monthly newsletter for residents called The Villager. In 2004, her successor, Brian Sirman, redesigned the publication to include recipes, a quiz, and "Ask Adrienne" (an advice column written by the Senior Resident Assistant, Adrienne Kisner). Since August 2004, The Villager has been printed bi-weekly. Ten Buick Street is the only on-campus residence at Boston University to feature a publication of this type.
33 Harry Agganis Way
Boston University's newest residence, which opened in the fall of 2009, accommodates 960 residents in two towers. The 26-story tower houses juniors and seniors in an apartment-style setting. These apartments are two-bedroom apartments for two students, or four-bedroom apartments for four students. All apartments have one bathroom, one living room, and one kitchen. The 19-story tower houses sophomores, juniors and seniors residing in suite (dormitory-style) settings. The suites house eight students each; half of the residents reside in four single bedrooms, while the other half occupy two double bedrooms. Each suite has two bathrooms and one living room.
1019 Commonwealth Avenue
Located across the street from West Campus, 1019 is suite-style housing without kitchens. Thus, residents eat at the West Campus dining hall. The suites have three double rooms which share a bathroom and common room. During the summer, Boston University sometimes uses 1019 as temporary lodging for conference attendees and other visitors.
Boston University’s Fenway Campus is located in the Riverway area near South Campus. The campus is composed of multiple undergraduate and graduate residences: Riverway House, Pilgrim House, and Campus Center & Student Residence. These residences include dorm-style and suite-style rooms with single, double, triple, and quadruple occupancy. They also offer study lounges, laundry rooms, vending machines, internet access, and a dining hall (located at Campus Center Student Residence).
Other housing locations
Aside from these main residential areas, smaller residential dormitories are scattered along Commonwealth Avenue between main school buildings, including 722-728 Commonwealth Avenue, located across from CVS on St. Mary's street.
Hotels: The Hyatt and Holiday Inn Brookline
Due to housing capacity shortages, many incoming students are temporarily housed in hotels during the fall semester. These hotels include the Hyatt Regency Cambridge on the opposite bank of the Charles, and the Holiday Inn Brookline, both a manageable walk to main campus with free shuttle bus service provided to students in the Hyatt.
575 Commonwealth Avenue
One of the hotels frequently used in this way was the former Howard Johnson's hotel at 575 Commonwealth Avenue, next to the Questrom School of Business' Rafik Hariri Building. In 2001, the University closed the hotel (which it owned) and converted the building into a full-time dormitory, now known as 575 Commonwealth Avenue. Rooms are commonly divided into triples, although there are a few doubles and singles.Every room comes with its own bathroom and air conditioning, a luxury not present in most rooms on campus. This 8-story building, not including the basement, includes the first floor lobby, 6 floors for bedroom dorms, and an eight floor study area. The first floor lobby also has two lounge areas, where students can choose to study or hang out by playing pool or watching TV. Students lovingly refer to it as either 575 or the HoJo.
Boston University also provides specialty houses or specialty floors to students who have particular interests. The Common Ground House on Bay State Road is a house designed for those wanting to live in an emphatically multi-background setting. A special application is required prior to general housing decisions in order to be considered for specialty housing. Bay State Road also has brownstones for students in the College of General Studies, Management, Music, Sargent College, Education and Trustee Scholars. There are also specialty floors in large dormitories, such as Core Curricular program, Women in Science and Engineering, same-sex floors, etc.
All large dormitories have 24/7 security and require all students to swipe and show their school identification before entering. Bay State Road brownstones and many of the apartment-style residences on South Campus (such as those on Park Drive and Buswell Street) have locked front doors that require students to have cards or keys to the front door. Every dormitory has at least one resident advisor. Large dorms have at least one on each floor.
The security system on campus (while safe and effective) was considered a nuisance by the student population prior to a major overhaul which took effect in Fall 2007. Students (and residents) of Boston University could not enter a dorm other than their own after 8 p.m. without being signed in, and were expected to leave the premises (unless allocated for a special study session, called a "study extension") by 2 a.m. Study extensions allowed students who live on campus to remain in a dormitory other than their own until 7 a.m., at which time they were required to sign out of the building.
Starting in September 2007, a new guest policy relaxed most of the rules that have frustrated Boston University students. The new policy allows for overnight guests to be signed in until 2 a.m. of the first night of the stay with consent of a student's roommate. Previously the guest policy did not permit overnight guest approval to occur less than 24 hours prior to the beginning of the stay. In addition, there is now a difference in the guest policy for those students living in the mostly freshman/sophomore dorms versus those living in the Student Village (10 Buick Street and 33 Agganis Way), an exclusively upperclassman apartment complex. Residents of the Student Village will be allowed to have guests at any time of the day without any approval process, as long as the guest is accompanied by a Student Village resident. The new policy is likely to increase the percentage of students who want to live on campus, which is already a substantial majority of the undergraduate population.
Between 2002 and 2008, The University has been criticized for overbooking its housing for the fall semester as a result of its large student population and its guarantee of on-campus housing for four years. As a result, many freshmen were shunted to nearby hotels to accommodate the overflow. BU's Daily Free Press often published articles relating to the university's inability to provide acceptable housing for its students. With the opening of StuVi-II in Fall 2009, the school's 960-bed 19 and 26 story towers, BU says it will be able to house the nearly 80 percent of its 16,000 undergraduates who want to live on campus without using hotels.
In the past, the Boston University Office of Housing was criticized for reserving a certain percentage of each dormitory for underclasses. This caused complaints from upperclassmen who were relegated to living in substandard housing due to spots in prime housing being taken by freshmen and sophomores, squeezing the upperclassmen out of the already crowded, at the time, housing system. Additionally, some freshmen placed into predominantly upperclassmen dorms are unsatisfied with their assignments because of the difficulty of engaging with other underclassmen in these locations.
- BU Bridge BU Yesterday - Week of 19 February 1999 Archived December 1, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
- Boston University - Experience Student Life FAQs Archived February 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- If one chooses to live off-campus, while still a student at the Boston campus, re-admittance to on-campus housing is not guaranteed in the future.
- Jan, Tracy (2009-09-02). "BU dorm offers a study in luxury". The Boston Globe.
- "BU offers Hyatt rooms for housing selection". Archived from the original on 2007-10-07. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
- "Hotel housing necessary evil". Archived from the original on 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
- "Housing woes persist". Archived from the original on 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
- "Horrors Of Housing". Archived from the original on 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
- "The Gripes Of Housing". Archived from the original on 2007-10-07. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
- Boston University Office of Housing official site
- Boston University Dining Services official site
- Dorm Reviews by Students for Boston University of DormSplash
- Dormitories reviews & ratings submitted by BU students[permanent dead link]
- Dorm info posted by the Residence Hall Associations, with pictures, pros, cons[permanent dead link]