If Student Village Phase II opens as planned this fall, on-campus living options for Boston University students will grow by 960 beds. The new addition to BU’s housing system will likely eliminate the need for placing students in local hotels, and, with a little luck, may even result in a surplus of university beds for the first time in memory. In light of the new availability of on-campus housing and the university-wide construction freeze, the construction of the Student Village’s final stage ‘-‘- Phase III ‘-‘- will be put on hold for the foreseeable future. As long as there is available housing for BU students, the construction of StuVi3 shouldn’t be a priority for the university.
The original plan for the Student Village complex called for a total of 2,300 beds, which would make a significant dent in the shortage of BU-owned dormitory space that has cost the university in the past. But with the first and second phases of the Student Village constituting nearly 1,800 of the allotted beds, StuVi3’s impact on the BU housing market will be the least significant of the Student Village towers.
StuVi2’s impact on dorm and apartment availability, however, will be the largest since the opening of Student Village Phase I in 2000. Its 960 openings for underclassmen and upperclassmen alike will not just add beds, but redistribute existing dormitory vacancies, which should result in a less painful housing selection process for all students who choose to live on campus. With this in mind, rushing to add dorm space for BU would be a poor choice.
BU students have been guaranteed on-campus housing for all four years in Boston, a guarantee most area schools cannot or choose not to afford to make. With StuVi2’s timely completion, students can look forward to four years of quality housing, with almost no risk of being placed in a hotel for a semester due to overflow.
The only foreseeable problem the university might run into is if more upperclassmen decide to remain on campus longer before finding an off-campus apartment. But by all accounts, the number of available beds campus-wide will increase enough to handle such an upturn in on-campus living because students’ housing choices are fairly predictable.
In fact, the university should look at many other planned and even budgeted initiatives – like plans for a unified East Campus dining hall – with a frugal eye. As President Brown noted in October when he announced a temporary freeze on new renovation and construction, the university and its students face a time of unparalleled economic uncertainty. Heading into next year, the administration should make financial aid and tuition relief its top priority. BU can and should aspire to be a top-tier university, but an education here becomes out-of-reach to middle-class students, any spending on new facilities will be a wasteful and frivolous luxury.