NU asks for ‘Master Plan’ extension

NU asks for ‘Master Plan’ extension
Photo Courtesy/Wikicommons/Snutter

By Bill Shaner, News Staff

Northeastern officials are attempting to get a one-year extension on the university’s master plan next Thursday, a 10 year blueprint for expansion projects every university in Boston must submit. But there’s a problem: They need the support of community members before it can pass.

Boston residents want Northeastern to do what it can to limit the amount of students living off campus, particularly in the Mission Hill area, before they approve the extension.

“It comes down, really, to one thing: Getting students out of Mission Hill,” said Johanna Sena, director of communications at Boston’s City Hall. “How [Northeastern] will do it? That’s something we will hear on Thursday.”

Thursday is when Northeastern officials will attempt to appease the community before filing their extension request, whether that means proposing to restrict off-campus housing or not. The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. in Mission Church, 1545 Tremont St. After, the extension must be approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA).

Northeastern needs the extension on the master plan because the current one expires July 13, but university officials don’t have a new plan ready. Because of the uncertainty created by the economic recession, Senior Vice President of External Relations Mike Armini said it typically takes one to one and a half years to draft a master plan and that Northeastern may need to ask for another extension down the road.

Senior Vice President of External Relations Mike Armini declined to comment on what he and other officials would offer the community but he did say that while the neighbors’ support isn’t technically necessary.

“You are wise to meet with your surrounding communities and generate support of your plans,” he said.

Residents of Mission Hill said they expect Northeastern to address a few things. For instance, the current master plan dictates all freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus, once new dormitories have been constructed. The dormitory construction, however, was postponed due to the recession. Armini said the new dormitory, referred to as Building K, was cancelled last year because of its high cost.

Student Government Association’s vice present for student affairs-elect Ashley Caron, a role that typically deals with off-campus student life, said that though she doesn’t live in university housing, she wouldn’t mind if it was required.

“I personally am a sophomore that lived off-campus, but either way I’m impartial to that particular decision,” she said. “Moving off-campus was a good move for me, but if I had been required to live on campus I wouldn’t have been angry about that fact.”

Other schools that border Mission Hill already enforce policies requiring freshmen and sophomores to live on campus.

Armini said both the new dorm and mandatory on-campus housing for freshmen and sophomores will be “part of the conversation,” in developing the new master plan.

Neighbors also want Northeastern to address what they see as an over-enrollment in the past few years, and some residents say they should enroll a fewer number of students each year until the new dormitories are built, Sena said. However, in the current master plan, Northeastern aimed to have 6,500 students on campus by 2003, and about half of students live on campus, roughly 7,800, as reported in January 14 issue of The News.

“I can understand why the community is frustrated because you’re dealing with things that come to happen with a large population of students in your neighborhood,” Sena said.

In its master plan, Northeastern addresses the lack of on campus housing for students with this line: “demand for on-campus housing far exceeds the capacity of Northeastern’s existing facilities.” Armini reiterated the university’s will to provide more on campus housing in a recent interview.

However, some students said they have had pleasant off campus experiences and cordial relationships with older Mission Hill residents; one of whom is Caron. She said she “got on the good side” of her older neighbors and hasn’t had complaints since.

“They’re kind of like the guardians of the neighborhood, and we’ve never had an issue with them,” she said. “So it’s been a positive experience.”

Armini said the BRA will review Northeastern’s proposal in mid-June.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article identified Ashley Caron as vice president for student services-elect, which has been changed to reflect her actual position, vice president for student affairs-elect.

Leave a Reply