Curry College, On or Off?

BY KEVIN DIFFILY // APRIL 2, 2012 // 

Shay Sinnott had had enough. As a freshman living on campus in the fall of 2010, she didn’t get along particularly well with her roommate and she struggled to relate to many of her fellow State House residents.

But the actual tipping point came when her entire dorm was placed in “lock down” because of the misguided actions of several residents. Some students had broken into an RA’s room and tampered with that person’s belongings, leading to a strict crackdown by the school. Just one year on campus convinced Sinnott that she needed to move on.

She came, she saw, she left. Shay Sinnott decided to move off campus after freshman year rather than deal with the poor behavior of fellow students. 

“It was group punishment,” said Sinnott, today a junior communication major who has lived in an apartment in Hyde Park the past two years. “We were on 24-hour quiet hours for two weeks, with absolutely no guest privileges. I said to myself, ‘I’m not in kindergarten!’ I was 19 years old at the time, and this was the last straw.”

Erik Muurisepp, director of residence life and housing at Curry, said a bad first-year experience living on campus often sways students not to return to the dorms. In some cases, students choose not to return to the college at all. In addition, not every residence hall is created equally—some, such as 886 Residence Hall and North Campus Residence Hall, are relatively new, while others, like the Lombard, Mayflower, State and Scholars halls, are particularly dated—yet the cost is the same no matter which dorm you reside in. In 2012-2013, room and board at Curry will cost $12,760.

“The freshman dorms have a great community, but the buildings are tired,” said Muurisepp, noting that residence life has been trying to spruce up the older dorms and update amenities, such as common rooms and bathrooms, to keep first-year students happy.

“I think the experience of living on a college campus is great, but at the end of the day, some people look at the cost and decide it would make more sense to commute from home or to get an apartment with numerous people that might be a little bit cheaper,” he added.

Sinnott echoed that sentiment, saying that she saves money by living in an off-campus apartment. She also enjoys the expanded freedom that comes with living off campus, saying she can have friends over without worrying about RA’s roaming the hallways.

Like Sinnott, sophomore Tom Isom also spent just one year on campus. A native of Florida, Isom said dorm life can be difficult for non-locals because Curry’s residence halls shut down during holidays and lengthy breaks. If he couldn’t return to Florida, he often found himself scurrying to find a place to stay.

Also, “it seemed easier to live and work up here during the summer, and it just made more sense to live off campus,” he said. “It is a lot cheaper to live off campus since you aren’t forced to pay for meal plans or dorm expenses.”

But Isom was quick to note that not everything about off-campus life is great. He said he missed living on campus because of its proximity to other students and its community, which has a livelier social atmosphere than his apartment complex in Quincy.

To some degree, most Curry students have already made their bed, so to speak, for next year. Deposits for on-campus housing were due on Sunday, March 25, and housing selection—the process by which students choose which residence halls they want to live in—takes place the first week of April.

According to Muurisepp, about 60 percent of first-year students who are eligible to return to Curry choose to live on campus their sophomore years. He also said there is a decline each year in residents living on campus. Every class has an exponentially lower number of on-campus residents, which Muurisepp said is the norm at most schools. This semester, Curry houses 505 freshmen, 320 sophomores, 236 juniors and 205 seniors.

About half of Curry’s commuting population, which makes up almost 25 percent of the schools’ total traditional undergraduate enrollment, is comprised of students commuting from their parents’ homes, with the other half living in off-campus residences, Muurisepp said.

“I think it would be great if more students stayed on campus for four years,” he added. “The only concern would be available space. I think our housing is definitely set up in a way that shows we understand” approximately how many students from each class will be staying on campus each year, and how many will be leaving. The College currently has 1,430 beds, with 1,266 residents.

Like Isom, Sinnott said she actually misses certain aspects about living on campus. The biggest is community and companionship.

“My roommate is almost never home,” she said, “and it gets lonely sometimes.”

Another challenge is budgeting and making sure all bills are paid each month. It’s much different than living on campus, where you pay in full in advance.

Muurisepp added several more reasons why living on campus is beneficial for students. “Growth and development from a residential environment has been proven to produce a student who succeeds more, is engaged more, and graduates at a higher rate due to their connection with the campus,” he said. Muurisepp pointed out that such facts are based on national research, as Curry does not have substantive data for the respective graduation rates of residents versus commuters.

What it does have is 164 empty beds, which, at a price of approximately $12,700, is $2.08 million of lost revenue. To be sure, the cost of students living off campus is more than developmental.

Risky Recycling Business

BY ERN POWERS // MARCH 8, 2012 //

Most college students are familiar with those large plastic bags of empty cans and bottles that leave a stench of stale beer in the air of a dorm room. It is how those bags are disposed of that can pose a challenge for some.

Students arrived back on campus for the spring semester to find a new addition to their dorms. As part of Curry’s recent recycling initiative (first explained on page four in our issue last November), each room is now equipped with small green bins so that students can dispose of their trash with the environment in mind. A list posted on students’ doors displays what can and cannot be recycled; the guidelines are clear, and items from detergent bottles to pizza boxes and tissues are all placed in their respective categories. The lengthy reminder sheet also reads the policy for recycling cans and bottles.

However, what students cannot be sure of is what kind of risk they are taking when hauling their green bin of empties to the outside receptacle.

According to Rebecca Laroche, resident director for the South Campus Residence Hall, there is no set policy for the recycling of beer cans, bottles or empty liquor bottles.

“Personally, I am thrilled that we have a better organized recycling system and I have been encouraging my residents to recycle,” said Laroche. “But if I were to see a resident who I know is underage walking with a large bag full of empty alcohol containers, I would have a conversation with them about that.”

Laroche said her approach to handling underage drinking has not changed with the new recycling system.

Stephanie Alliette, assistant director of housing operations, echoed Laroche, stating that the new bins are nothing more than a recycling initiative, not a “ploy for catching underage drinking.” Moreover, behavioral expectations of students are the same as they were prior to placement of the bins.

But not everyone believes the coast is entirely clear.

“I’m 21, so I have no problem bringing my empties out to the recycling bin,” said Zachary Allen, a junior information technology major. “If this had been a couple years earlier, I might have been more skeptical. I probably would have just left them in the trash and tossed them in the dumpster at quiet time.”

According to Alliette, all RD’s and community directors are expected to confront any underage student seen with an empty alcohol container, and to inform them of the school’s policy for underage drinking, which can be found in the Curry Student Handbook. It reads, “Possession or presence of empty alcohol containers is prohibited in rooms where students are under the age of 21 and will be viewed as evidence of possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages.”

“This would be the same expectation if empties were sitting in a trash can in a room full of minors or on the desk in their room,” said Alliette, who added that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to policy violations, as mitigating factors are often involved.

Students in “wet suites,” where each resident is at least 21 years of age, don’t face much of a dilemma. However, underage students must often choose between the environment and a clean record.

Curry, We Have a Problem

BY BRITTANY JENNINGS // MARCH 6, 2012 //

Most college students feel comfortable expressing their opinions online. They also like to complain.

By combining the two, a number of Curry students have found a collective home on Twitter for their many objections about life on campus.

“One day, I saw that a bunch of my friends from Suffolk, UMass, Salem State, etc. re-tweeting from ‘SuffolkGrlProblems,’ ‘UMAProblems,’ ‘SSUProblems’ accounts and I thought it would be funny to create one for Curry,” said a senior female Curry student who asked not to be identified out of fear of retribution by the college’s administration. “I didn’t tell anyone that I was going to create the account, and the jokes just started flowing.”

The first of the many tweets on @CCProblems were, “Girls go to dinner in packs, that’s the rules. #Curryproblems” and “He bought me a pitcher at McGraths. #Romantic #Curryproblems.” Within two days, word spread among the student body and @CCProblems had more than 350 followers. That’s when the tone of the page took a turn.

Curry students began actively voicing their complaints on the page, criticizing boring professors, obnoxious girls, and the food at the Student Center, among other topics. It quickly became something of a safe space for students to vent.

“As a paying student at this school, I should be given the opportunity to complain about certain aspects of Curry that I encounter,” said the page’s creator. One of her more pointed tweets read: “When you walk into your common room and the cleaning crew is sitting on your couch watching tv instead of vacuuming. #CurryProblems.”

A few days after @CCProblems was created, an account titled @CCProblemSolved appeared on Twitter. @CCProblemSolved began responding to the various complaints posted to the @CCProblems page, offering potential “solutions.” One post read: “Curry College has an outstanding community, and our growth has been tremendous. Part of growing is seeking improvement, and solving problems.” In addition, the administrator of the page criticized the founder of @CCProblems for enabling the complaints of others, and even suggested that the administrator committed a crime by using the college’s logo without permission as her profile picture. @CCProblemSolved features a photograph of Samuel Silas Curry, the college’s founder.

It’s unclear who created the @CCProblemSolved account. Sarah Bordeleau, associate director of Student Activities, said neither her office nor the Student Affairs office created the account, and that “it’s up in the air if it’s an official college department that created the account.” Fran Jackson, director of communications at the college, and Erik Murrisepp, director of residential life and housing, both denied that the page was created through their departments.

“Students should be able to vent about certain issues at Curry,” said Bordeleau, noting she believes a Curry-loving student likely created the account. “The way it was done (through @CCProblems), was in a passive way and wasn’t effective. There are better forms to solve a problem. The problems should be brought to the right people to address the issue….The faculty and staff of Curry want to help.”

But according to some students, @CCProblems was a great way to express their opinions about the college, often in a comical fashion.

“The school should listen to some problems because some were true, but some were also just funny,” said Kayla Urquhart, a sophomore communication major.

Added Neila Rene’, a freshman nursing major, “A lot of what was said on @CCProblems is true and funny. Maybe the deans should listen to what the students are saying so there would be less ‘Curry Problems.’ ”

The account still lives on in Twitter, with the Curry logo replaced by a cat in a spacesuit, “the most random picture I could find…to show it was supposed to be a joke,” said the creator.

Joke or not, the page has inspired imitators. Today, there are various Curry-related “problem” accounts on Twitter. One is called @CCollegProblems, and Curry students tweet more frequently there—it has nearly 230 followers—than on the original “problem” account. Another is @CurryGirlProbz, which has more than 100 followers. There is also a hashtag trend page, #Curryproblems. Trend pages are not administered by anyone, but instead serve as a central location for anyone tweeting about a specific topic, so long as they include the hashtag name. Some recent examples include: “No power in the state house basement… Great start to Monday… #curryproblems #mondayproblems #wtf” and “When your bagel in kennedy tastes old… #curryproblems.”

Sometimes, it just feels good to vent.

Shakes Stir Excitement in Hafer

Even though winter is nearing, the Hafer Cafe is successfully selling loads of f’real milkshakes and smoothies to students and faculty alike. // PHOTO BY ASHLEY BUCKLEY

BY ZACHARY WEISS AND NICK IRONSIDE // DEC. 5, 2011 //

Some milkshakes bring all the boys to the yard, but a new machine by the company f’real has students and faculty alike flocking to the Hafer Café.

The “magical milkshake machine,” as the company calls it, blends prepackaged shakes and smoothies. The milkshake flavors include chocolate, cookies ‘n cream, vanilla, strawberry, and Reese’s peanut butter cup. The smoothie flavors are strawberry banana mango and blueberry raspberry pomegranate.

“I love them,” said Jessica Leary, a freshman nursing major. “I get the chocolate milkshake. They’re just really good. I’d like to see them added to the Student Center.”

For now, the lone f’real machine is located in the Hafer Café. Each shake or smoothie costs $3.99, which hasn’t been cost prohibitive for too many folks. According to Irene Whooten, a Sodexo employee who works in the café, they sell about 50 of the drinks per day. “They are a novelty on campus, and we’re the only place that has it,” she said.

According to the f’real Web site, they’re also available on other college campuses in the area, including Emerson, Suffolk and UMass-Boston.

“They give students the choice of a little something extra,” said Axel Cruz, a freshman criminal justice major. “And they taste delicious!”