Metro, Politics, Featured Column, Column, Boston

A Future Letter To Mayor Walsh

Note: this is a letter composed to Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ’09, in the final year of his first term in 2017.

Dear Mayor Walsh,

By the time you read this, it will be 2017. I will be graduating from Boston College, and you will be lamenting your final days as Mayor of Boston—unless, of course, you get reelected for a second term. Or five terms like Menino. There is no doubt that you have big shoes to fill, Marty. After just one year as the leader of our city, it is clear that you are already forming your own legacy, but now I ask you to take a step back for a minute and reconsider some of your initiatives along the way.

You’re probably wondering why I am writing to you in the first place. Nearly two years ago, I came to Boston after spending my childhood living in the arctic tundra that is Minnesota. By 2017, I will have spent four years living in a completely new home—and will be considering if I want to spend the next chapter of my life in Boston, or another major city.

There are many key issues currently going on in the city that will not only have a lasting effect on current Bostonians, but will impact the future of the city’s college population. In 2017, I’m asking that you look back at some of your initiatives in the first two years of your term and consider a student’s perspective:

Olympics—The International Olympic Committee’s decision of whether or not Boston will be host to the 2024 summer Olympic games will be made in the fall of 2017, just a few weeks before your term will end. I know you expressed your concerns about the bid in its beginning stages, but after hearing you speak to hundreds of Bostonians at the first public meeting, it is clear that you and Boston 2024 officials are one team. As you continue to push this idea on the public, the question arises: will you open the bid to a vote? Regardless of what you decide, I hope you involve Bostonians—and college students—in a decision that could completely change the future of the city.

Would hosting the Olympics be an incredible opportunity for Boston? Yes. But we’re more concerned with whether Boston can reestablish itself as a world-class city. You promised Boston’s Olympic bid would expedite the process of revamping the city, especially the MBTA. Regardless of whether or not Boston wins the bid at the end of your term, the city needs to do everything in its power to follow through on the development plans of the T.

Housing—It is clear the city needs more affordable housing. How are students—especially new graduates—supposed to find a place to live if the rent is so hideously expensive? Here at your own alma mater, countless students are in violation of the “No More Than Four” ordinance, simply because they cannot afford the rents in Brighton. As the city inspects potentially overcrowded off-campus addresses in the future, I ask that you consider the notion that students are the ones being forced into these situations. If students can’t find affordable housing after graduation, they will leave. I urge you to initiate conversations with students, universities, and landlords to figure out how the city can reduce rents.

As a college student, I’m part of a group that plays a critical role in the city. Over 250,000 of us go to school in Boston each year, and we are at the core of the city’s reputation as a hub of education and innovation. You don’t want me and thousands of other students from world’s top universities to leave Boston after spending four years, only to never return. Already more and more students are heading to glamorous places like New York and San Francisco for jobs and internships.

I hope that you consider this letter as you wrap up your first term as Mayor and usher in the next generation of Bostonians. In 2017, I will graduate and enter the workplace with thousands of other young adults, and we will all undoubtedly consider Boston as an option.

Can you keep us here?

Featured Image by Francisco Ruela / Heights Graphic

February 12, 2015