SMFA Beacon Street will house only first-years in 2019–2020 academic year

The outside of the Office of Residential Life and Learning is pictured on Mar. 4, 2019. (Mengqi Irina Wang / The Tufts Daily)

The Beacon Street residence halls at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts are scheduled to accommodate only incoming first-years for the 2019–2020 academic year, according to Director of Residential Life and Learning Joshua Hartman. The Office of Residential Life and Learning (ORLL) is working to provide alternative living accommodations for rising sophomores, according to Hartman.

The SMFA campus has three residence halls on Beacon Street. Currently, 1047 and 1023 Beacon Street house first-years and 1025 Beacon Street is reserved for upperclassmen, according to Hartman. The three residence halls accommodate 77 students total, excluding first-year advisors, Hartman explained.

Hartman said the anticipated SMFA class size for the 2019–2020 first-year class is 76 students, filling all spots in the Beacon Street residential halls; the one remaining dorm room will be used for urgent room changes.

Rising sophomores will not be housed in the SMFA Beacon Street residence halls. The ORLL is dealing with this situation by designating a number of rooms in Harleston Hall for sophomore SMFA students, according to Hartman. He explained that all Bachelor of Fine Arts sophomores who have applied for housing on the Medford campus immediately qualified for housing in Harleston Hall.

The school has also looked at Northeastern University to find housing accommodations for SMFA students.

“We worked closely with Northeastern University and [were] able to have some of the BFA students invited to Northeastern’s off-campus housing fair which highlights the numerous off-campus opportunities in Boston in the vicinity of the SMFA campus,” Hartman said.

Similar to the Medford campus, upperclassmen at the SMFA are not guaranteed on-campus housing and are able to be placed on a housing waitlist, according to the SMFA website.

In the event that a room becomes available in any of the Beacon Street residential halls, Hartman said rising sophomores being housed in Harleston Hall will have first priority should they prefer to live on Beacon Street.

This is the first time this issue has arisen due to the increased number of students entering the SMFA’s class of 2023, according to Hartman.

Rising BFA sophomores living in Harleston Hall will now have to commute from the Medford campus to the SMFA campus everyday, a major inconvenience for BFA students like Lily Oliver.

“It’s important to be close to our school,” Oliver, a sophomore, said.

The distance from the SMFA campus to the Beacon Street residences is about a 20 minute walk, with shuttles running regularly, according to Oliver.

“It’s no commute compared to having to take a shuttle in Medford for a class that starts at 9 a.m. in Boston,” Oliver said. 

Mackenzie Baker, president of the Student Government Association (SGA) at the SMFA, said the housing situation has caused serious concern among many BFA students.

“There are many problems that are arising from this that leave many of the students panicked and concerned about their housing situations,” Baker, a senior, said. “While many of us are fortunate enough to have found housing, … finding places in the Boston are near the SMFA campus can be high competitive and very expensive.”

Baker and other student representatives from the SMFA have been meeting with Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate and Tufts deans to find solutions to this housing issue, according to Baker and Maia Lai, a sophomore who acts as a liaison between SGA and TCU Senate. These meetings have centered around trying to find solutions to the housing problem, Lai told the Daily in an electronic message.

This housing issue, however, does provide rising BFA sophomores with an opportunity to live alongside Medford students and be a greater part of the Medford community. Oliver has noticed a growing trend of BFA students wanting to be more involved on the Medford campus.

“I’ve noticed that particularly this year’s freshmen classes are really interested in living in Medford and traditional campus life,” Oliver said. “And I think that’s due largely to the fact that the Tufts name is more solidified, so they are coming in expecting to be part of the Tufts community.


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