Students moved to W Boston Hotel in effort to create more isolation spaces


Hongyu Liu

The exterior of the W hotel.

By Abigail Lee, Magazine Editor

Emerson relocated 40 students to the W Boston Hotel at the beginning of the spring semester,  in order to free up spaces for on-campus isolation in the face of surging COVID-19 cases

Students were moved into single-occupancy rooms on the fifth and seventh floors of the W, each fitted with one or two king or queen-sized beds, a TV, minifridge, and desk. The relocation mirrors the outset of the pandemic, when 208 students were housed at the W—occupying floors five through 14—over the course of the 2020-21 academic year. 

Following the Omicron-induced record case numbers—431 since Jan. 3 at the time of reporting—Emerson came to a new agreement with the hotel in order to vacate residential spaces for on-campus isolation, said Director of Housing & Residential Education Christie Anglade. HRE emailed select students on Dec. 28 and began the move-in process the first week of January. The college has concluded relocations for the foreseeable future. 

“Students were given the choice to select this housing option—if a suite or an individual in a suite declined, they stayed in their current space in campus housing,” Anglade said in email correspondence to The Beacon.

To reduce the number of students who needed to be moved, the college reached out to students who lived in suites with “pre-existing vacancies.”

Those who took up the offer were expected to move into the hotel by Jan. 10 and will move out when residence halls close on Apr. 29. 

The moving process involved signing a “hotel-specific addendum” as well as a report on the state of the room upon arrival, said Anglade. Students are expected to follow certain hotel policies in addition to normal residential hall policies. Two Emerson residential assistants supervise the students. 

Jacob Warman, a sophomore visual and media arts major, moved from the Paramount Center to his new “dorm” on Jan. 10. Having previously lived in a six-person suite with two vacancies, he said he has been enjoying his time at the W. 

“It was like, ‘do I want to?’” he said. “But obviously it’s a hotel, and there are people that don’t have the free space, so it’s kind of the right thing to do.” 

Because of the hotel’s proximity, Warman said he didn’t feel alienated from the rest of the on-campus population.  

“It’s definitely better than Paramount,” he said. “It’s closer, and I can just walk through the alleyway to get to the dining hall.”

Ava Salti, a sophomore sports communications major, also said she didn’t feel distanced. Her day-to-day activities, like playing on the basketball team or visiting her friends, still allow her to feel a part of campus life. 

“I love it because I get my own space, but I also am not isolated,” Salti said. “There’s ways to insert yourself into the campus…I don’t feel like it’s that big of a deal.”

Parker Gray, a junior visual and media arts major and Warman’s former suitemate, also said he appreciates the private space. 

“Having a space to yourself can be important for a lot of students, especially me since I tend to enjoy being alone most of the time,” he said. “The ability to have your own bathroom is definitely my biggest plus since now I don’t have to organize times with my suitemates.”

Nevertheless, Gray said that even with Emerson students occupying the same floors, there is a noticeable difference from the atmosphere of a residential hall.

“The only downside is the lack of the college dorm vibe,” said Gray. “I don’t feel as connected to the other students [who live next to me] as I did living in a dorm building.”

Despite the unexpected nature of the move, some students emphasized the financial benefits of being placed in the W.

“We’re even more fortunate because this is essentially like a massive single that I have,” Warman said. “But the cool thing is that we’re still paying for the price of a double.”