Administration, Top Story, News

Student Center Still in the Works, Despite Absence From Strategic Plan

Late last month, Boston College released its new 10-year plan, Ever to Excel: Advancing Boston College’s Mission, which outlines four strategic directions for the University to pursue and has as its most ambitious plan an Institute for Integrated Sciences and Society (IISS). But the plan lacked something that BC has wanted for years now: a student center. Last year, the Undergraduate Government of BC advocated that the construction of a student center be a top priority in the new strategic plan, but when it was left out, some students wondered why. According to BC administrators, though, a student center is still very much part of BC’s plan.

“It’s not unusual for a strategic plan not to name specific buildings when they’re doing it,” Vice President for Student Affairs Barb Jones said.

Jones explained that the previous strategic plan also did not name a student center building—rather, the plan outlined Student Formation as one of its primary tenets, and named a student center, new residence halls, and a new recreation center in the capital plan, which came separately, in 2008.

According to Jones, after the strategic plan is approved, there is a process to look at, based on what is outlined in the strategic plan, the capital projects that need to accompany it.

“We’re not quite far along enough for the capital projects to come out of the plan yet,” Jones said.

Mary Nardone, BC’s associate vice president of capital projects management, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Vice President for Planning and Assessment Kelli Armstrong said she would not add to what Jones had already discussed.

Many of the projects that were in the strategic and master plan from 10 years ago have been delayed because of the 2008 financial recession, Jones said, and a number of buildings are happening later in the sequence than originally planned. For example, the IISS has been in the works since at least 2007, when BC put together a website on it, but it was abandoned for several years and will not open until fall 2021 at earliest.

BC has reached the blueprint stage of building a student center at least twice, first in 1995, when there were permit-approval delays, and again in 2005. According to Jones, the site for the future student center remains where the Flynn Recreation Complex currently stands.

While plans for constructing a student center remain in the beginning stages, the Office of Student Affairs is looking for ways to open up spaces on campus for students to meet, study, or use as a space for programming in the meantime.

This year, the Office of Student Affairs is partnering with UGBC and the library to continue to extend its Friday and Saturday hours to 2 a.m. Hillside after Dark will also be returning this fall, with an added touch of food. Over the summer, the Office of Student Affairs and Dining Services spoke about providing food for students during Hillside Cafe’s extended hours. Instead of staffing the cafe to provide food, students are able to use Dining Service’s online app to order food directly to Hillside Cafe.

While it has been over a decade since the last effort to construct a student center got to the blueprint stage, the project is still in the University’s master plan.

“The student center is still in the University’s master plan,” Jones said. “It doesn’t mean that the student center isn’t still in the future.”

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September 21, 2017