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Dwelling in the future

Administrators survey Medical Campus students on their housing needs

The Medical Campus Office of Housing Resources is conducting a survey of students’ housing needs in order to plan for the future. Of the more than 2,800 Medical Campus students, enrolled at the School of Medicine, the School of Public Health, and the School of Dental Medicine, only about 100 of them live in Medical Campus housing.

Over the past 10 years, quality of life in the South End neighborhood adjacent to the Medical Campus has increased dramatically; it’s a safer and more attractive place to live. That’s the good news, says William Gasper, Medical Campus associate vice president for business and finance.

“The consequence of that is the cost of housing in the area immediately adjacent to campus has increased,” he says. “We’re looking at what we could do to address that institutionally by developing housing that would be tailored to our students’ needs, such as modest and efficient apartments.”

Students’ needs have also changed now that BU has a shuttle service that leaves every half hour and whisks students easily from the Charles River Campus to the Medical Campus in 20 minutes.

“It seems that the shuttle has opened up a whole new corridor in ways that just weren’t accessible before,” says Peter Reich, an assistant professor and director of special projects for the School of Medicine.

The data from this year’s survey is expected to guide the University in long-range strategic planning, with the goal of making safe and secure housing more accessible, less costly, and ideal for study, school leaders say. But Gasper notes that there are no specific plans under way, and that the survey is exploratory. The information especially required is which locations are accessible or preferable, what kind of floor plan is needed, and what students can afford to pay for housing.

A similar survey in 1988 led to the redevelopment of a building that once belonged to Boston College. It became Harrison Court, a 60-unit apartment building with a capacity of about 100 Medical Campus students. Administrators learned many things from that survey, Reich says, such as students’ needing large desks on which to spread out several books and papers at once. Whether students still have such requirements, he says, remains to be seen.

Medical Campus students can visit the housing survey by visiting http://dccwww.bumc.bu.edu/housing/.