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  • Writer's pictureREBECCA OSOWSKI

Empty residence halls create income, undergo renovations

Saunders House has remained empty, most recently being used as a rental space in 2020, and for the annual Haunted House, hosted by Campus Activities Board, Student Government Association, and Lasell College Radio. Photo by Rebecca Osowski

Earlier this year, Brandeis University reached out to Lasell to discuss renting out Holt Hall for their students. Brandeis only guarantees their students on campus housing for four consecutive semesters, traditionally the first two full years.

According to Adrienne Franciosi, Associate Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, because of this policy and the current high prices of rent, some students and their families were concerned with trying to find off campus housing. While Lasell and Brandeis did have conversations about renting out Holt and the details of the contract, Brandeis students and parents decided it was best to keep their community together.

Franciosi explained there are around two to three residence halls that come offline every year. In addition to Holt, Saunders House, Pickard House and Keever House are all offline and Pickard remains a backup COVID-19 isolation house. While offline, they are used for rentals to different organizations or are renovated.

Despite the same halls being offline for the past few years, Franciosi says students can voice what houses and halls they would like to see available to live in. “I’ve always been very proud that we include students, student government…The student voice is very important to us because we can’t say we’re student first if we’re not bringing that student voice,” Franciosi said.

Holt has been vacant of full year resident students since 2020, when it was used for COVID-19 isolation housing. Since then, it has been rented out by different organizations to generate income. Over the past year, Holt has brought in over $60,000 in additional revenue, according to Franciosi. “We want to be generating revenue that goes back into the student experience,” Franciosi said.

Currently, the Boston Institute of Education is housing around seven international students in Holt for the second time. The Boston Institute of Education works with international students that Franciosi says have been in the States and are either preparing for their SATs, improving their English prior to college, or are in the transition to higher education.

In addition to this group, Holt was used over the summer for camp counselors at Linx Camp in Wellesley; Masar, a high school leadership group; and Regional Baha’I, a community service group.

Saunders has also remained empty and been undergoing renovations. Right before the pandemic in 2020, the New England Free Jacks rented out Saunders, however no other group has rented Saunders since. According to Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs David Hennessey, the Saunders renovation is happening slowly, and progress is usually made while students are not on campus.

In addition to these groups that have rented short-term, Lasell hosted their first summer camp, We Rock Summer. In collaboration with We Rock the Spectrum Wellesley, the camp is designed for campers of all abilities. According to the website, the camp offers “inclusive philosophy where children can learn and have fun in various activities, including Yoga, Sports, Dance, Music, Arts & Crafts, and Free Play.”

Through this endeavor, the university was able to secure their own camp permit, meaning they can now create and market camps with specific goals. A few ideas Franciosi mentioned as a possibility are pre-college camps, fashion design and graphic design camps, and sports camps through the Athletic Department.

“Not only is this a way to generate revenue, but it’s a way for us to get in front of our target audience of high school students and families to attract them to Lasell,” Franciosi said. “It’s also part of a larger marketing strategy as well.”

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