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Concerns Raised About Dorm's Distance

Dana Hildner, ’13, Staff Writer

Merrimack's 150 Student Off Campus Housing, St. Francis Hall

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Dean: ‘College is More Than Where You Live’

The Saint Francis Retreat House, the new leased dormitory building for Merrimack, has caused a stir around campus.

The facility is located on River Road in Andover, on the Tewksbury line. The college has said 150 students in the rising junior class will be placed there.

According to Google Maps, the estimated time to travel to and from campus is about 20 minutes, not accounting for traffic. Students worry this could affect the students’ academic life as well as social life on campus, not being able to get to class on time or make club and or athletic practices.

Sophomore Olivia Huie said, “I would have to get up early and be more likely to skip class.”

Also, “I think there would be more incidents of drinking and driving,” Huie said.

“I am not worried about students drinking and driving since I am confident that Merrimack students make responsible choices now about that issue and will continue to do so next year,” said Dean of Campus Life Donna Swartwout.

Although the college is providing transportation 24/7, it does leave some students feeling they will potentially be disconnected from the rest of the college community, especially being three exits down I-495.

Sophomore Brittany Marcinowski said: “It would negatively affect my college experience because I would be separated from my friends and other on-campus activities. I would feel so isolated.”

Marcinowski argued that the college should have planned better before beginning to increase enrollment.

“I think Merrimack should have had the appropriate accommodations before bringing in such a big student body in,” she said. “It is unfair for the students who are upperclassmen.”

“I think students living in St Francis Hall will make the most of this experience,” said Swartwout. “College is more than where you live. It is who you live with, what you are learning in the classroom, what you are involved with outside of the classroom that makes your college memories meaningful and fun.”

“Students living in St Francis Hall can still attend the spring concert, watch a field hockey game, attend Cram Jam and play intramurals,” she said. “Students living in St Francis Hall will make new friends, bond over a bus ride or a cup of coffee in the basement of the hall, and take advantage of the front lawn to work on their tans or play wiffleball.”

The price of room and board will be the same and the living style will be similar to that of a double in the Deegans, the college has said. Laundry services will be familiar because it is the same as for on-campus students.

The college is working with Sodexo to provide a continental breakfast every day at St. Francis, for a more convenient option than having to arrive on campus before class. A Mack Card relationship similar to the ones Merrimack has with Bertucci’s and Fuddruckers is being sought with the local eateries in St. Francis Hall’s area, including the 99, Cracker Barrel and Longhorn Steakhouse.

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