Column: Northeastern: the Emerald City

Column: Northeastern: the Emerald City

Walking down Forsyth on my way to the T last week, I overheard a guy say, “Lady, you better run.”

I followed his gaze across Huntington Avenue toward Qdoba, where a woman – a big woman – was booking it down the sidewalk, her considerable weight accented by a hot pink scarf blowing in the wind. And let me tell you, she was covering serious ground in those gold stilettos. I felt bad for her, thinking she was late for some sort of appointment. What a jerk that kid was, I thought, making fun of her under his breath.

And then I noticed the police office running behind her. Considering the fugitive looked like a globe on stilts, logic would dictate she would have been easily apprehended by the officer chasing her. However this particular officer was a rather petite woman.

I assumed she was wary of toppling her quarry and thereby crushing herself. And so they kept running.

I was on the outbound side of the Northeastern stop when Globe-on-Stilts made her big move and ducked into the Marino Center, with the officer closing in. All this in plain view of one of those massive February tour groups that swarmed over campus last week.

That’s when I lost sight of the pair. A couple minutes later I saw a male officer standing outside the gym, his radio in front of his face. Why he wasn’t inside helping his tiny female colleague was beyond me, but the T came and I never found out what happened.

You should have seen the faces of some of those parents. Some were laughing, but most were betraying some degree of nervous suburban shock at witnessing a low-speed chase just outside Northeastern’s campus tour jewel.

Ah yes, the Marino Center, that shining glass beacon of fitness with our dear school’s name all over it, beautifully on display in one of the most passerby-trodden sections of campus. Remember your campus tour? Your personal admissions office flunkie touted that gym like a medieval cathedral. Think it’s a coincidence they line the atrium with elliptical trainers and treadmills, where our most health-conscious female students jiggle at all hours of the day?


Whether you exercise or not, the Marino center probably played a part in getting you to say, “What a beautiful campus! Yes, I would like to come to this school.” That, and West Village.

Damn, were those apartments good-looking. So big, and sparkling and new, with their floor-to-ceiling windows and funky modern angles. On the outside, A through H are wicked impressive, all interesting flowing shapes and just look at that height!

Northeastern knows how good West Village looks. That’s why they emblazoned the school’s name on A, gloriously visible from the Museum of Fine Arts T stop, just past the Wentworth lacrosse field. It’s all marketing, dear reader. Good marketing.

But it doesn’t matter how pretty campus is when you’re trudging through six inches of slush to get to class, or back to your lovely $1,000-a-month West Village apartment. And it sure doesn’t matter when you have to walk though the Village on a windy day. Or a breezy day, or even a generally still day, because West Village is a freaking wind tunnel.

Did they think about that when architects and engineers unveiled those fun curvy buildings? Did it cross their minds that, hey, this dorm complex is going to be built in the windiest major city in the country, and one of the windiest places in the world?

Maybe. We are pretty smart here at Northeastern, don’t forget. Just look at how pretty the campus is.

And now the administration is fixing for some new buildings. We’ve heard talk of a rezzy hall at the corner of Tremont and Ruggles Streets, and a new athletic building in the Matthews Arena parking lot.

That new residence hall will be on the very outskirts of campus, visible to all of Roxbury and the non-Northeastern Boston community. The picture The News published Jan. 10 shows a huge building, in the West H tradition, absolutely dwarfing the Boston Police headquarters across the street.

That was taken into consideration, I’m sure. That BPD building is pretty new, pretty modern and pretty, well, pretty. Make sure we don’t look stupid next to it.

And the new $25 million recreation facility on St. Botolph Street has only been described, so far as I can find, as having a “three-story glass facades.” Sounds like an echo of the Marino Center, and sounds like something that will look very impressive to all those going to Northeastern hockey games, or convocation at Matthews. I don’t remember seeing Matthews Arena when I was a high school senior, but something tells me it’ll be a major stop on future tours.

My point through all this rambling is that this is what Northeastern cares about: image. We want big beautiful buildings with Northeastern’s name plastered all over them like a race car: we want more kids on campus because the statistics look better (and the administration gets more green); we want to look good, and we want to look rich. Now, it’s not a bad thing for us students, necessarily. The better Northeastern’s reputation, the more valuable our diplomas.

And that’s what it’s all about, right?

– Rachel Slajda can be reached at [email protected]

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