It’s time to put the argument of East vs. West Campus to rest. Both sides of this school boast their own unique environment, and students can feel the change of energy when they cross the Boston University Bridge.
In West Campus, you’ll see Target and the Fitness and Recreation Center on the horizon, with 33 Harry Agganis Way basking in its 26-floor glory. To the East, you’ll find brownstones lining Bay State Road and the Citgo sign as a northern star. Both sides of campus are great, but they each have their pros and cons.
Campus can sometimes feel a bit segregated by age — we all know who lives in StuVi II compared to who lives in the giant germ that is Warren Towers. But anyone can look at this debate from the perspective of a freshman, someone yet to be tarnished by experiences with sad dining hall food and dead rats in Allston. They’re most likely thinking about three main aspects of BU life when deciding where to live: dining, socializing and classes.
When you think of West Campus, you picture hockey games at Agganis Arena, Tuesday-night concerts at Paradise Rock Club and thrifting at Goodwill. West Campus offers a plethora of fun activities without forcing students to step off Commonwealth Avenue.
West Campus also offers more places to dine outside of one’s meal plan: Taco Bell Cantina, Chipotle, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and a slew of more diverse, ethnic foods in Allston. The late-night food options certainly come in handy when everything near East Campus is closed by midnight.
However, if you want to optimize your dining points and meal plan, then East Campus is the side for you. Some fan favorites — the George Sherman Union, Marciano Commons and Basho Express — are all on East or close to it. You can also support the stretch of small businesses on Commonwealth Avenue or head to popular chains in Kenmore and Fenway.
But the deciding factor is usually not food. It’s the proximity to classes and the city of Boston.
West Campus is obviously a hike from the city, which can be off-putting at times. If you’re a BU student, you most likely chose the University for its seat in the heart of Boston. Heading downtown is integral to this kind of college experience.
But West is the part of Commonwealth Avenue most like a traditional campus, with a vibrant track and field and students socializing everywhere. East Campus, meanwhile, sees more faculty, staff and residents from the surrounding community. So, at West, you truly feel as if you’re in your own little West Campus bubble, away from the hustle and bustle of Boston.
Still, West is painfully far from the majority of class buildings. Unless you’re studying in the College of Fine Arts or College of General Studies, you’ll find yourself constantly in a 15–20 minute commute to lecture, which isn’t enjoyable for anyone. Of course, this issue isn’t so relevant anymore under current circumstances.
Post-pandemic, however, this distance between home and class can be remedied via the BU Shuttle or the train, but it’s definitely not convenient. In pre-COVID-19 times, you would be lucky to fit on the bus during peak travel hours and would end up walking back in the rain or snow.
However, the distance can also give you a nice work-life balance. You wake up, commute to your classes across the bridge and come back at the end of the day to your humble abode. You can spend the walk or bus ride calling your mom or listening to an aptly named Daily Free Press podcast. The commute can be optimized for that alone time we all need.
Yet these long treks also comprise much of the reason Warren Towers is a prime location for freshmen who prefer convenience. There, they don’t have to worry about the stress of being late to class, and they’re also a short train ride away from the city when they just want to catch a break and go exploring.
At residences such as Danielson Hall or Myles Standish Hall, a walk to Newbury Street takes less than 10 minutes. Keep heading straight and you can walk through nearly every neighborhood in Boston, reaching Downtown, the Seaport District, the North End or anywhere else you hope to see.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority station at Kenmore only makes it easier to access all parts of Boston, all while avoiding the notorious Allston rats — West Campus can’t say the same to either of those statements. East Campus is also closer to the BU Beach and the Charles River Esplanade, which are great green spaces for outdoor socialization.
However, all the pros and cons for either side of campus have been affected by the coronavirus. Something we never thought we would factor into our college experience is the isolation housing experience for those with COVID-19. Yet, here we are.
The isolation housing situated in East Campus at 575 Commonwealth Avenue isn’t exactly the mansion you’d want to stay in for two weeks. The concrete building has a nice view of the physics building or Bay State Road, and that’s about it.
However, West Campus is home to full-blown isolation apartments at 1047 Commonwealth Avenue. If you’re going to be by yourself for two weeks straight, you want to be in a nice environment. Also, travel times to classes don’t really apply right now, so any points West Campus loses for the commute across campus are now neutralized.
East and West Campus both have their thorns and roses. Unfortunately, COVID-19 makes these roses a lot less vibrant when we sit in our dorms all day. For now, we’ll think of the good ol’ days when we were sitting in a packed lecture hall or sprinting to catch the bus.
No matter what side of campus you emerged from, we all had the same goals: avoid the rats and make it through another semester.