Collegiate Reporting

Collegiate Reporting

Suffolk Law loses faculty legend

No Comments

For the past 32 years, Professor Jeffrey Wittenberg has brought humor to an otherwise grueling topic for most law students, chanted law codes line-by-line during a first lecture and pushed students to the edge until they realized their full potential. Fueled by perseverance, Wittenberg was determined to teach the next generation of lawyers since becoming apart of Suffolk Law’s faculty in 1986 until he passed unexpectedly last week.

“He was a beloved husband, father and grandfather. We are so happy he was able to do what he loved–working with students and faculty for over 40 years,” said Wittenberg’s wife Diane to a Journal reporter late Tuesday night. “So few people are able to do what they love and be great at it.  He was one of the lucky ones.”

Son-in-law Peter Lurie, who acted as the family’s spokesperson, said the Wittenbergs appreciated the tremendous outpour of support from the entire Suffolk community.

“The family feels a tight bond with Suffolk,” said Lurie to a Journal reporter on Tuesday night.

Wittenberg’s son, Richard Wittenberg, received an MBA from the Sawyer Business School (SBS) and their daughter Kimberly Lurie is a graduate of Suffolk Law and now works as an adjunct professor at the SBS and Lurie’s brother Jerry is a Suffolk alum, according to the family.

“Wittenberg was a uniquely talented teacher, possessor of a great sense of humor and a loyal, steadfast friend and colleague,” said Suffolk Law Professor Emeritus Richard Perlmutter. “His death is a terrible loss to his family, friends and students and truly diminishes the Suffolk Law community.”

Perlmutter was described as Wittenberg’s best friend by the family, the two co-authored multiple books together and Perlmutter’s eulogy was read at the funeral.

“The Law School is grieving Jeff Wittenberg’s passing,” said Law Dean Andrew Perlman to a Suffolk Journal reporter this weekend. “He was a beloved professor for thousands of Suffolk Law alumni.”

Throughout his teachings, Wittenberg, 73, focused on contracts, product liability, sports law and commercial law and was remembered by his students as a professor who demanded a lot but showed unblemished warmth and compassion.

“He also was a wonderful colleague with a sense of humor that could leave us crying with laughter,” said Perlman. “Today, we’re crying tears of sorrow from losing one of Suffolk Law’s greats.”

Students have described him as the “toughest” professor and said they had “feared” walking into his 1L contracts course, but said they ended up learning more than they expected. Some Law alum described him as the only professor that had the ability to get them to read a textbook cover-to-cover. Former Suffolk Law graduate Ann Marie Maccarone said Wittenberg made Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) compelling, even though it was one of the classes that “most law students dread.”

“I don’t think I would have passed the bar exam without having learned the code from him,” said Maccarone who graduated in 1994. “He was truly one of the great ones.”

Suffolk Law alum Nicholas Holahan said Wittenberg will forever hold a “special place his heart,” and remembered fondly when Wittenberg invited Holahan’s father to become part of a class lecture.

“His joy in teaching law was imparted to those of who were fortunate enough to attend his classes,” said Holahan, who graduated from Suffolk Law in 2013. “I can only imagine the vast number of students he taught over the course his career, yet he was warm and attentive to all of us.”

Holahan recollected the first few weeks of Wittenberg’s class with a Journal reporter and said he felt “intimidated” walking into the lecture hall as Wittenberg veritably chanted Article 2 of the UCC to the class.

“By the end, his class was a comedy show based on wacky law skits that we were welcome to join in on,” said Holahan.

Suffolk Law alum John Cronin affectionately remembered when a group of members of the Class of 2006 won an auction to dine at Wittenberg’s house during their third year to a Journal reporter. Cronin said the class was “anxious” to spend more time with Wittenberg as he often would stay more than 45 minutes after class to commiserate with his students on the infamous Red Sox playoff loss to the Yankees in 2003. Cronin said Wittenberg would jump from topic to topic with his students– from Boston sports, to politics and “of course, the law.”

“When I look back on his class, two things jump out in my mind,” said Cronin. “He was a true champion of the Socratic method and loved cold calling on students to test whether they had prepared for class.   I was called on a lot. It kept me – and the rest of my classmates – on my toes and really motivated us to put in the time and preparation to succeed, but also to be unafraid to be wrong occasionally.”

Cronin described Wittenberg as “persistent,” and that persistence was often unsettling as he would not typically let his students off the hook.

“In the end, though, he always helped you get there,” said Cronin.   

Cronin remembered one of Wittenberg’s favorite quotes that he would often utter with a gleam in his eye: “There is nothing better than being a good lawyer.”

“He believed it, and he made all of us believe it, too,” said Cronin. “Easily one of the best parts of the Suffolk Law experience was attending his class.”

Born in Denver, CO in March of 1945, Wittenberg later received his Bachelor’s from San Francisco State University and his Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Hastings. He was admitted into the Bar Association in both Illinois and Minnesota.

“Professor Wittenberg, known for his wonderful sense of humor and kindness, was admired by his colleagues and many friends in the Law School and beyond,” said President Marisa Kelly in a statement sent to all students on Friday. “His presence will be greatly missed.”

Prior to coming to Suffolk, he had served as a law clerk on the Minnesota Supreme Court and practiced law in Chicago. He has also taught at multiple different law schools, including John Marshall University, University of Mississippi, and the University of Pittsburgh, according to his faculty page.

“His passing is a great loss for the University, and we will sorely miss him,” wrote Kelly.

Wittenberg is survived by his wife Diane, his children and seven grandchildren. Donations could be made in Wittenberg’s memory to Operation Delta Dog in Chelmsford, MA.


Collegiate Reporting

SU approved by BPDA for more student housing

No Comments

City approves for Suffolk to lease the 1047 Commonwealth Ave property for student housing last week

Click here for the original story.

The Boston’s Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) approved Suffolk University to lease 1047 Commonwealth Ave for additional student housing in City Hall on Thursday.

The space will be available for housing Suffolk students starting in the fall, according to Vice President of External Affairs John Nucci.

Nucci presented the university’s case to lease the estate on Commonwealth Ave to the BPDA and said that with the already increasing number of Suffolk students in the Allston and Brighton neighborhoods, this would be the “university’s effort to reduce students in residential housing.”

The building is currently a space used by Boston University for student housing.

According to the BPDA, the property was built in 2015 and includes 180 co-ed units that feature micro-apartments for two or three students, stainless steel appliances, free laundry inside the unit, a dishwasher and central air conditioning. Decked with lounges, study spaces and city views, the location is fixated on the MBTA Green Line 25 minutes away from campus.

According to Suffolk’s website, the university will provide a free MBTA pass for students who will eventually live there. These same students will have the option to buy a meal plan to use on campus, but it will not be required to purchase one, similar to those who live in the 10 West St. apartments.

The Suffolk Journal previously reported on how the university was looking to add more student housing last fall. Nucci told a Journal reporter in a previous interview that it wasn’t so much about distance as it was an issue of commute time for students as he scouted for an estate for dorms, but looked to steer clear from Downtown’s soaring prices.

BU’s student newspaper, the Daily Free Press, reported in 2016 how some students had a “love-hate” relationship with the apartments on Commonwealth Ave, as some said that some rooms were unusually small while others were larger than others.

The property was originally planned to hold the Sassoon-Academy Hairdressing School, according to media outlets, but when the deal fell through, the Cambridge-based developer, Urban Spaces LLC, was going to build studio apartments. The developer later agreed to BU’s call to lease the premises for student housing.

Collegiate Reporting

Marisa Kelly next president of Suffolk

No Comments

After a historic and highly anticipated search, Marisa Kelly has been named the permanent president of Suffolk University. Since October of 2016, the Presidential Search Committee formed, led by Chairman John Brooks. After a national search was conducted, they came to the decision after nearly 85 candidates applied, including an estimated 20 sitting presidents at various universities.

After countless hours of interviewing candidates, Board of Trustees Chairman Bob Lamb and now President Marisa Kelly said in a joint phone interview with The Suffolk Journal that the time of Suffolk’s Board and upper administration feud is resolved.

“Those days are behind us,” said Kelly in an interview with The Journal on Wednesday. “We have a fabulous Board of Trustees.”

Lamb, who has spoken highly of Kelly in the past, said on Wednesday night that he was “delighted” by the Board’s decision.

Kelly, who has been in the position of acting president for  20 months, said that she is “so honored as Suffolk is such a special place.”

“I couldn’t imagine this step of my career at any other institution,” said Kelly of Suffolk to a Journal reporter.

Lamb, who said that there was “no assumption” or “pre-determination” when the Committee was formed that Kelly would be named.

Kelly signed a five year contract with the university but said to The Journal on Wednesday night, “I am hoping it will be longer.”

Lamb mirrored that same sentiment.

Lamb, who echoed Brooks statement in a public Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on Nov. 30, which was published in a recent article by The Journal, that “nearly” 85 candidates applied, with an estimated 20 current or sitting presidents at other universities until the Search Committee narrowed their selection to 11 semi-finalists, then down to four finalists.

Kelly has raised more [money] in her term than the university has in the past seven years, said Lamb. Lamb cited the $3M and $10M gifts that Kelly worked for from alumni this past year.

Candidates were filtered down to two, including Kelly, on Monday night.

Kelly said she is looking forward to working on a number of initiatives as permanent president, including the innovation of Suffolk’s academic programs, continue to tell the Suffolk story on a global scale, stay committed to the university’s core and continue fundraising success with partnerships and donors, foundations, nonprofits and government agencies.

Since 2010, Suffolk has experienced a media frenzy of negative headlines that included a revolving door of presidents. Kelly and Lamb said they are confident in working together, as they have since both took their positions.

“We are thriving now and we are going to thrive in the future,” said Kelly. “Faculty and staff are excited about who we are.”

Alongside Kelly has stood Acting Provost Sebastian Royo, also a faculty member within the government department. Kelly said there will be a search for a permanent provost in the near future, whether it will begin during the upcoming fall semester or start before then. It is not confirmed if Royo will apply for the job.

“[Sebastian] has been a wonderful partner,” said Kelly.

According to a Boston Globe article published on Thursday morning, Kelly will begin her permanent role as president on July 1.

Collegiate Reporting

Mueller takes aim at Russia: Indictments in probe continue

No Comments

Click here for the original story.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office released a 14th indictment that targeted the Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaan on Tuesday morning in relation to the investigation into Russia’s meddling with the United States’ 2016 presidential election.

The indictment accused van der Zwaan of making false statements to the FBI “willfully and knowingly,” including communication with lobbyist and American political consultant Rick Gates and an individual labeled as “Person A,” according to the indictment.

The Russian government denied that it meddled in the Donald Trump campaign during the Kremlin’s first remarks on Monday after the first wave of 13 Russian nationals were indicted Friday. The charges against the Russian nationals were on charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S., according to multiple news reports.

Spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, told BBC News that the indictments provided “no substantial evidence” of Russian interference.

As for sophomore Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE), History major and former Republican turned Democrat Matt O’Brien, the indictments did not surprise him.

“The evidence has proven interference by the Russians time and again,” said O’Brien to The Suffolk Journal on Tuesday afternoon after news broke of van der Zwaan’s indictment.

Senior Business Information Systems major Alexi Korolev, who is originally from Moscow, has said he does not identify as a Trump or President Vladimir Putin supporter in recent interviews with The Suffolk Journal. Korolev told a Journal reporter that Russian citizens, as a general population, supported Trump throughout the campaign trail much more than Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. However, this same support may not have trickled into the Trump presidency, according to Korolev.

“One of the major reasons for that is simply because Clinton had expressed herself rather hostile toward Russians, whereas Trump has always been fond of Russians and wanted to extend our beneficial business partnership. The Russian media also did a fine job of portraying Trump in a much better light,” said Korolev. “But that was a year ago.”

Mueller laid out the charges against the Russian nationals as well as three Russian entities on Friday, according to multiple reports.

The indictment described in detail that actions against the U.S. political system, which began as early as 2014 when the Russian organization Internet Research Agency began interference that included the 2016 elections, according to the indictment.

The Russian nationals had allegedly posed as citizens of the U.S. and operated social media pages and groups that would attract American audiences under false personas. Two of these Russians are said to have traveled to the U.S. in 2014 in order to gather intelligence for such operations, according to Mueller’s indictment.

For sophomore PPE major Geoffrey Scales, who has actively identified as a Trump supporter said that the recent indictments serve as a telltale sign that “something happened” with Russia.

“Whether that be their own interference in our election or some sort of collusion with the Trump campaign, the truth needs to come out,” said Scales to The Journal on Tuesday night. “Whether President Trump likes it or not.”

Throughout the weekend, Trump went on a “Tweet storm,” after the indictments were released.

“I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer,” Trump tweeted early Sunday morning. “The Russian “hoax” was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters during a live press conference on Tuesday afternoon that Trump “has been very hard on Russia.”

Trump continued to look to Twitter in order to broadcast his opinion on the indictments throughout President’s Day.

“Obama was President up to, and beyond, the 2016 Election,” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?”

For O’Brien, he said it is time for Trump to step up and admit Russia’s interference.

“Now it’s time for our president to condemn Russia for their actions,” said O’Brien. “If he won’t, it’s time for the people to do it for him.”

Collegiate Reporting

Fighting Spirit: Gazzani talks terms’ final stretch

No Comments

With plans and initiatives in hand, Student Government Association (SGA) President Daniel Gazzani headed into the final stage of his term. Ambitious as he is available, Gazzani’s work as the first international student as SGA president so far has been rooted in his deep passion to build a sense of community at the university.

The string of dominating topics he had chosen to pinpoint will find Gazzani essentially everywhere on campus. Whether he’s sitting behind his desk on the fourth floor of Sawyer, in Presidential Search meetings, connecting students across the globe or decoding the workings of a mobile app as a “one-stop shop,” his work has been meant to “serve Suffolk’s students and make their lives easier.”

Gazzani spoke candidly in a recent interview with The Suffolk Journal, which regarded his administration’s four main goals that he set out in the beginning of his term in May. These objectives included setting up an emergency fund scholarship for international students, rebuilding a relationship between the Board of Trustees, Faculty Senate and students, frame a mobile app for students and develop a leadership coalition program between Suffolk’s SGA and local high schools.

Referencing former SGA President Sean Walsh’s term as a “time of transition,” Gazzani said that he also assumed office during a critical point for the university.

“After [former] President [Margaret] McKenna was terminated, we were in a period where the university was looking for stability again,” said Gazzani, who is also a sitting student member on Suffolk’s Presidential Search Committee, led by frontman and Trustee John Brooks. “I think we had moved forward from that period and so when I became president, my entire goal was to resume the work that I had started when I was vice president.”

As a student leader who began to be apart of SGA during his sophomore year as a senator, the Venezuelan native has been dedicated to his work for his fellow international students since he ran for and clinched the vice presidency for his junior year.

Throughout this past summer and fall semester, a string of natural disasters had impacted the home countries of many international students in the Boston area. Since international students do not receive need-based scholarships, Gazzani set out to help those affected by these events.

“What if there is an international student that’s facing an unprecedented financial circumstance where they cannot pay for college,” said Gazzani. “There’s little relief to help these types of students out.”

Earnest for these students, Gazzani looked to create the “International Assistance Scholarship,” that would strictly be for international students in case of an emergency.

“We don’t want the message from Suffolk to be to their international student community that we only want you if you can pay,” said Gazzani. “We want the message to be that this is a university that embraces diversity and inclusion. And we’re going to help you stay here as long as we can.”

Gazzani worked with Senior Vice President of Finance Laura Sander, Associate Vice President of Bursar & Financial Planning Michelle Quinlan and Director of Student Financial Services Jennifer Ricciardi to put in a request for the scholarship to the Board of Trustees for the next fiscal year. If it passes, the scholarship will provide $30,000 worth of relief each year.

“It’s not too much of an amount where the Board will say no and it’s big enough to completely cover one-full semester with tuition and room and board for one student,” said Gazzani. “We can prevent one student from going home to where their life could be in danger.”

SGA Secretary Morgan Robb, who works closely with Gazzani, said he has been clearly focused on inclusion and has stayed persistent with the administration.

“Not only were we, as an organization, able to raise money, but he also has worked on having the university focus on building a fund for it,” said Robb to a Journal reporter on Tuesday night. “His passion has never wavered all year.”

Both Sander and Quinlan did not respond to contact with The Journal as of Tuesday night.

“This is the goal I am most proud of. As an international student myself, I can definitely feel for this and I know the struggles that we face here on campus,” said Gazzani. “I want to make sure that we keep creating opportunities for all students.”

With just three months left in his term, Gazzani has been proud to serve as Suffolk’s first international student president, where he has been able to “open new doors” for future international students looking to run for office. As he has stuck to his roots throughout his time in SGA by standing by diversity and inclusion, Gazzani believes that his legacy is “one of change.”


Collegiate Reporting

State of the Union: Democrats have watershed moment, Trump looks for unity in push of GOP message

No Comments

Click here for the original story.

President Donald Trump had snatched the stage of his first State of the Union Speech in a venture to reset his presidency. With a deeply divided nation tuning in and split Congress filing in the Chamber, Trump attempted the deploy of a number of instigative phrases that would soften the rhetoric around his first year in office.

In the context of plummeting approval ratings and the charge of new voices challenging his message in the upcoming midterm elections, Trump stuck to the script and had ushered in a “new American moment” as he issued a call for unity.

The speech had looped through some of Trump’s favorite policy areas, erratically moving from foreign policy subject to a domestic issue, and back; ranging from slashing business regulations, a jump in economic growth and cited his recent tax cut legislation.

For Suffolk University sophomore Politics, Philosophy and Economics [PPE] major and Trump supporter Geoffrey Scales, the president’s messages included issues that Scales backed the leader on such as the economic boost, but critiqued his delivery.

“[Trump] hit most of the points he needed,” said Scales. “But a lot of the rhetoric fell flat. The big moments were clear but did not deliver the way it was intended to.”

Trump’s tone throughout his speech had directly contradicted his typical, off-the-cuff comments, typically seen on his Twitter page, that had not only been credited to his election win, but also made enemies within his own party.

However, Trump was not the only politician in the spotlight Tuesday night. Strategically positioned in a vocational high school in Fall River, MA, the young Congressman Joe Kennedy III made a rebuttal speech for the Democrats and may have spoken to the voters that felt left behind in Trump’s speech.

“Our vision for this union is guided by a simple belief that equality and economic dignity should be afforded to every American,” said Kennedy in a press release.

In a time when the Democratic base may have a chance to seize back more seats in Congress after the special and municipal elections of 2017, Scales said the Democrats may have “struck gold” with choosing Kennedy.

“[Kennedy’s rebuttal] was a watershed moment for the Democratic party,” said Scales, who voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. “In a way, Kennedy is a democratic ‘throwback.’ He is progressive but relates more to the common working man.”

“This was the missing link that the Democrats did not have in 2016,” said Scales.

While Trump somewhat steered from discussing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] program when he left the vague statement of “Americans are dreamers, too,” Kennedy spoke in Spanish.

“And to all the Dreamers watching tonight, let me be clear: Ustedes son parte de nuestra historia.Vamos a luchar por ustedes y no nos vamos alejar,” said Kennedy. “You are a part of our story. We will fight for you. We will not walk away.”

At last year’s inaugural address that had strictly been centered around “American carnage,” Trump had worked Tuesday night to convince his uncertain public, and Congress, that he could unify the mangled nation.

As Trump pushed the GOP agenda in a call for unity, Kennedy told the nation that Democrats had the answer. Kennedy, who had cheering students from the Fall River technical school in front of him, had painted the picture of America in the past year, brimmed with mass shootings, civil rights pushed back, far-right rhetoric and even hinted at the Russian probe.

“Russia [is] knee-deep in our democracy,” said Kennedy.

Sophomore PPE and History major and former Republican turned Democrat Matt O’Brien questioned if some of Trump’s key points of victory were aftermath effects of former President Barack Obama’s administration such as the African-American unemployment rate, that had began its decline in 2010, according to a Washington Post fact checker during the speech.

O’Brien, who said he compared Trump’s unusually long speech to a listicle that could have been headlined, “17 things to make America great again,” is pleased that the president did not mention “crooked Hillary,” or make stabs at Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Though the former Trump supporter rated the president address well, O’Brien said that Kennedy was “more relatable” and spoke to the younger generation.

“The idea he holds of America is the idea I hold,” said O’Brien.

Collegiate Reporting

Walsh clinches mayor’s race for second term

No Comments

Click here for the original story.

Mayor Marty Walsh trounced into a second term in office on Tuesday night and outplayed his challenger, City Councilor Tito Jackson. By more than 31 percentage points, the incumbent easily took the mayor’s race by storm after already four years of leading with a firm and capable attitude as he fought for all residents of the city of Boston.

After a string of endorsements from Massachusetts officials, Walsh bolstered his campaign from speaking out against the disorder in Washington and was able to avert Jackson, who fought to become Boston’s first black mayor.

“Tonight, we commit once again to be a city for all of us, to bring opportunity to everyone,” said Walsh to press and supporters at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel on Tuesday night after the Associated Press called the votes.

Suffolk University sophomore, Student Government Association (SGA) Senator, Republican and campaign intern for Mike Kelley for City Council for District 2, Matt O’Brien told a Journal reporter that this election would serve as a referendum to Walsh’s job performance.

“Mayor Walsh has proven capable in standing up for all residents of Boston,” said O’Brien as he explained that Walsh has demonstrated himself as a reformer. “He has stood up for working families, immigrant families and to the Trump administration. His speaking out on issues such as the Paris Climate Agreement and DACA have put both himself and the City of Boston on the map.”

The lopsided race is said to have exposed some of the city’s most imperative issues as well as stimulated debate over Walsh’s priorities as mayor, with Jackson leading the conversation.

“I believe Jackson [ran] a campaign to hold the mayor accountable,” said O’Brien.

The District 7 councilor, who lagged in a recent Suffolk University/ Boston Globe poll by 35 points, had announced his candidacy in January and had immediately plagued Walsh for his potential big business ventures instead of focusing on the city’s most vulnerable.

“The poll is a powerful validation of Mayor Walsh’s first term in office,” said Director of the Suffolk’s Political Research Center David Paleologos.

After the defeat for Jackson’s campaign was announced, he vowed to his supporters to continue to push his message for more spending on schools instead of “giving away” tax incentives to big companies, such as Amazon.

Walsh, surrounded by reporters at his celebration in Copley Square, swore to continue to fight for his free community college plan, housing opportunities across the city, to end the surge in homelessness, help immigrant families, among his original campaign promises.

“Four years ago, my dream came true: you chose this son of immigrants to serve the city we love,” said Walsh in a statement to The Journal late Tuesday night. “I said then: we are in this together. Every neighborhood. Every race and religion.”

Sophomore SGA Senator Sophia Romeo said she saw proof of Walsh’s strong re-election campaign early on; with his name “plastered everywhere” from Hubway bikes to garbage cans as a reflection of his efforts on the city’s economy and efforts for small business owners.

“He’s taking Boston in a direction where it is competitive with other progressive and innovative cities,” said Romeo. “The push to have Amazon headquarters in Boston is also important to me as a students since it will open up job opportunities and boost the culture coming to Boston.”

SGA Vice President Yasir Batalvi supported the Walsh political machine throughout his campaign to strive for another four years in office.

“Under his leadership, Boston has continued down the path of growth, progress, and development that we, as residents, deserve and the rest of the country expects,” said Batalvi. “He’s an aid to our community, a help to students and graduates, and a mayor that’s willing to take risks to push our city toward the best possible future.”

The Boston Globe, U.S. Senior Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), U.S. Junior Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), former 2013 Mayoral challenger John Connolly, Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey, among others all endorsed Walsh.

“After four years of hard work, I believe it more deeply than ever: when we come together, Boston, anything is possible,” said Walsh in a statement to The Journal. “The choices we make for Boston are not just on election day. The choices we make every day are what bring us together as a city. Across all our differences, we vote with our feet to come here, and we vote with our hearts to stay.”

Collegiate Reporting

Suffolk looks to add more student housing

No Comments

Click here for the original story.

When advertising major Kate Cusick was gearing up this past summer to leave Paris, she was on her own to find a place to live in Boston, with little help from her own university’s student housing.

After spending the entirety of her junior year studying abroad in Paris, the emerging senior decided to spend the summer before her last year at Suffolk in France to work. Throughout the summer, Cusick was actively looking for apartments in Boston to spend her final year before graduation.

With family occupied in Rhode Island, it was impossible for Cusick to commute from there to Suffolk each day and to find lodging space seemed nearly impossible.

“There’s so much spam on Craigslist and I discovered a lot of apartments don’t want to lease to undergrads,” said Cusick in a recent interview with The Suffolk Journal. Eventually Cusick found an apartment that she would be able to pay for through her earnings, but it fell through while she was still residing in France.

Cusick contacted Suffolk for tips to close on an apartment, but said in an interview that she was told that her price range was “too low” and she would have to find a place that would eventually be $400 more than her initial budget.

“This was clearly not something that I could afford,” said Cusick.

Like Cusick, undergraduate students across Suffolk University struggle to find housing, specifically after students’ first year.

Freshmen journalism major Brandon Clay said to a Journal reporter in an interview on Tuesday that he is “stressed” about his living situation for the next four years.

”I love living on-campus. If I don’t get chosen for the lottery, I have no clue where I will live next year,” said Clay. “Giving us more housing would be really helpful and I wouldn’t be as worried.”

Suffolk is looking to change this attitude toward limited housing.

“It’s safe to say that we are always looking for opportunities to provide more beds for Suffolk students,” said Vice President of External Affairs John Nucci in an interview. As an East Boston native, former city councilor, school committeeman, Massport Community Advisory Committee member and community activist, Nucci looks to figure additional housing for Suffolk students.

Suffolk currently houses 23 to 24 percent of students in the present dormitory buildings: Miller Hall on Somerset Street, 150 Tremont, 10 West or the Modern Theatre apartments.

However, this time, the dormitory would not necessarily be situated in downtown Boston, but in a neighborhood of Boston where the commute time would be around 10 minutes.

“It’s not so much distance as it is the issue of commute time,” said Nucci in an interview on Friday afternoon. “We’re looking at the idea of having something located on an MBTA line.”

With strong ties and credibility to East Boston, Nucci admitted to having already looked at opportunities in the area, as well as in Charlestown and South Boston, steering clear from Downtown’s soaring prices.

“We have a leg up going in [to East Boston],” said Nucci.

Suffolk hired commercial real estate powerhouse Colliers International, a company Suffolk has worked with in the past, to help with the project after a request for proposal [RFP] process the university held this summer.

“Colliers is helping us out with both technical assistance and advisory services,” said Nucci. The amount of knowledge that Colliers had on the local market and surrounding areas made them the best choice, he said.

According to Nucci, many developers have already approached the university with potential sites, as Suffolk will not be building from the “ground up.”

“[Colliers will help us] review ability, affordability, and [the buildings’] location among other issues,” said Nucci.

Much like how many universities are tackling development projects, Suffolk is looking for a public-private partnership with a developer, or owner, of a building. In sight, Nucci said that a private developer would provide the facility and Suffolk would manage it. Nucci is looking to have this partnership be long-term with an extensive lease and Suffolk is looking to move onto a new opportunity soon.

“This is an urgent matter so there is a sense of urgency,” said Nucci. “It’s part of the existing strategic plan to increase housed students.”

A team that has consisted of Nucci, the Financial Department, Student Affairs and Residence Life have a “great say” about the type of facility that Suffolk leases from in the near future.

“If the right opportunity presents itself, we would move on it,” said Nucci.

However, the process to receive the city’s approval is comprehensive, and Nucci, as someone with more than 30 years of public service, is familiar with the road ahead.

“Any development that we do get will require approval from the city and it is an extensive process. In terms of meeting with neighbors and with community members, we will need to get approval from that neighborhood,” said Nucci as he cited the rocky relationship that Suffolk had with Beacon Hill before he worked in the university’s external affairs unit. “There was no trust [with Beacon Hill], no credibility and, quite frankly, the university had run over [the Hill’s] best interests. Prior to me coming and prior to this department of External Affairs being created, there was no department for community relations here at Suffolk. And it showed. We have turned that around completely.”

Nucci emphasized that it would be important for Suffolk to not “repeat history” with a neighborhood, much like it did with Beacon Hill. He said that Suffolk would have to gain credibility and trust with the neighborhood that they would move a residence hall to, and ensure to the community that a dormitory would be in their best interest.

“The main concern, that many neighborhoods have, is that there are students in private housing that perhaps make noise or the neighbors consider to be disruptive,” said Nucci. “If we can take those students out of that private housing and put them in a supervised university setting, that concern will change.”

“My message [to neighborhoods] usually is that [students are] coming anyway,” said Nucci.

Cusick, who battled to find an apartment while across the Atlantic Ocean, and now pays more each month than she did in Paris, said that she thinks that additional housing at Suffolk is vital.

“I really think that offering more on-campus housing would be a great option for people who are coming back to the U.S. from abroad or have just transferred and need a place to live,” she said. “I have had numerous Suffolk friends who were also in my situation.”

Collegiate Reporting

Suffolk places in national ranking system, twice

No Comments
Alexa Gagosz/Editor-In-Chief
For the second year in a row, Suffolk University had clinched seventh place as an institution focused on global experience and education, according to the 2018 U.S. News & World Report’s Best National Universities list.

Suffolk, which rose seven spots in the category from the 2017 list for its considerable international student population, classroom sizes and academic excellence.

The university sealed the 181st spot on the list for the top level institutions to offer expansive choices of majors, master’s and doctoral degrees.

Suffolk fell two spots from the previous year in the Most International Students list. U.S. News and World Report relies on reported data from the previous academic year, according to a university spokesperson. For the 2017 list, Suffolk topped the region with 22 percent international students among undergraduate enrollment. For the 2018 list, Suffolk fell one percent in the number of international students, which dropped the university to seventh place.

Boston University ranked fifth in this same category and Northeastern University ranked behind Suffolk in tenth place. Emerson College did not rank on the “Best National Universities” list nor the “Most International Students” list, according to the magazine’s website. Emerson, however, did place on the Northeastern regional list, a list that Suffolk used to rank on before being considered for the “Best National Universities” list.

“It’s our incredible diversity that sets Suffolk apart, and it’s great to see so many international students choosing Suffolk as a place to share their amazing experiences and learn from those around them,” said junior economics major and Vice President of the International Student Association, Charles Tang, an international student from Guangzhou, China to a Journal reporter on Sunday night.

Alongside a large international student population and offering undergraduate and advanced degree programs in more than 60 areas of study, Suffolk is said to have ranked due to smaller class sizes compared to other schools. Forty-eight percent of classes that were offered last year had fewer than 20 students and .2 percent of classes offered had less than 50 students per class, according to a press release by Suffolk’s Office of Public Affairs.

“The latest U.S. News rankings recognize the excellence of a Suffolk education and the strength of our academic programs,” said Acting President Marisa Kelly in a press release.

Suffolk recently partnered with INTO University Partnerships, an independent organization that recruits and expands higher education opportunities to students across the globe. Acting Provost Sebastian Royo, who has been a key player in bringing INTO onto Suffolk’s campus, hopes that INTO’s efforts will eventually enhance the university’s rankings that are based on international student populations and creating a diverse campus.

“The numbers have been going down for the last couple years which is consistent with the national trend,” said Royo in an interview on Monday. “Some of it has to do with what is happening in their countries of origin. It’s harder for families to fund the immigration of students abroad. The hope is that with the partnership with into, we can not only stabilize the numbers, but grow.”

“They have an outreach that we don’t have,” said Royo.

Suffolk also ranked in the High School Counselor and Business Programs list by the magazine for 2018.


Collegiate Reporting

Suffolk picks from within for new VP of Diversity, Access and Inclusion

No Comments

Suffolk University’s own Joyya Smith will step into the shoes of a new administrative role as of Sept. 18. Smith, the current director of the Center for Academic Access and Opportunity [CAAO], will now play a larger role within Suffolk’s top offices as the Vice President of Diversity, Access, and Inclusion, according to a university spokesperson.

“I’m hoping that the diversity on this campus will lead to an infused energy that allows us to celebrate one another and allows us to expand our horizons, to definitely be global citizens and to definitely be more than just a scholar,” said Smith in an interview on Friday afternoon.

This new VP position was one of the key recommendations from the Diversity Task Force report that came out last May after an almost year-long study on the university. The report had suggested that the position would report directly to the president, “have ‘actionable power’ whereby they could ensure that all components of the diversity plan at the university be conducted properly” and would “run subcommittees with the ability to evaluate and act where necessary.”

The decision for internal reconstructing without an external search was Acting President Kelly’s decision and the Board of Trustees were informed in advance, according to a university spokesperson on Saturday afternoon.

“The main priority is to bring awareness to diversity matters; ways to be accessible for all people here on campus and to also to be inclusive and to make that part of the fabric of Suffolk so that people don’t feel left out, that they feel like they have a place to learn and grow,” said Smith to a Journal reporter.

Smith is said to continue her work in providing leadership to the CAAO, according to a press release.

“It was very important to appoint someone to this position who could hit the ground running,” said Acting President Marisa Kelly, according to an email that was sent by the Public Affairs Office. “Joyya will be able to do so because she has already forged productive relationships with people in offices across campus who are critical to our ability to move forward in achieving our diversity goals, including the Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence, Student Affairs, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, and Human Resources.”

According to Nathan Roman, an Academic & Research Advisor for the McNair Scholars Program within the CAAO, Smith has easily transitioned as the director of the Center in less than a year with “energy and excitement.”

“[Smith] is perfect as she combines her experience in higher education with the heart to truly serve the students of Suffolk,” said Roman in an interview with a Journal reporter on Friday afternoon.

Editor’s Note: Chris DeGusto, News Editor, contributed to the reporting of this story.