Northeastern, city of Boston team up to tackle off-campus move-in

The annual parade of moving trucks commenced in Boston Thursday, kicking off the busiest move-in time for the city.

Among those new tenants are Northeastern students who have chosen to live off-campus in nearby neighborhoods such as Fenway and Mission Hill. And while they may not be living on campus, these students have an interdepartmental support network that has been planning for months to ensure their off-campus move-in runs smoothly.

“This is our biggest day of the year,” said Rebecca Regan, director of Off-Campus Student Services. “Of all the events and services we provide, it is the biggest in terms of planning and organization. And the city has given us the ability to run the show, which is great.”

For five years now, a committee of staff members from university departments with integral roles in the off-campus move-in process, including the Office of City and Community Affairs, the Northeastern University Police Department, and Facilities Services, has convened to prepare to assist the off-campus student community.

Planning begins in earnest in May, when the committee reviews how the off-campus move-in process went the previous year and identifies where tweaks can be made. “It has become a well-oiled machine,” Regan explained. “We really look at what may need altering from the previous year, and then execute it.”

This year, Off-Campus Student Services emphasized helping its 100 volunteers role play and anticipate some of the more common conversations the volunteers can expect to have with students.

Students, this year, will receive neighborhood maps complete with helpful information, such as important phone numbers and apps, as well as a list of tenant and landlord expectations, courtesy of Off-Campus Student Services.


Information provided by Off-Campus Student Services. Graphic by YoungHee Jang/Northeastern University

“One thing students and their families should be mindful of is this is a long process,” Regan said. “Just getting to the neighborhood can take some time because you also have regular tenants moving into the area, as well.”

This year is the seventh off-campus move-in for John Tobin, vice president of City and Community Affairs, whose office helps to ensure that both students and community neighbors have a positive move-in experience.

“We are all in this together on Sept. 1,” Tobin said. “Whether it’s a Sunday, Labor Day, or a rainy day, Sept. 1 is off-campus move-in. We have neighbors who are there year-round and we want to make sure they are minimally inconvenienced and that the move-in process goes smoothly for our students and their families.”

Northeastern and the city work closely in the months leading up to Sept. 1, Tobin said, to make sure they can best alleviate stresses. In some cases, that means working with the city to determine what roads can be switched to one-way so traffic does not get snarled.

“So many different entities come together around the university to pull this day off as flawlessly as you can,” Tobin said. “It is not something you can go into the day before and say ‘this is what we want to do.’”

For its part, NUPD is on hand to ensure everyone abides by the one-hour parking limit to offload vehicles in Fenway and Mission Hill, therefore preventing any type of backup on city streets.

“The whole city of Boston is moving,” said Lt. Michael Dwyer, the NUPD representative on the off-campus move-in committee. “So all it takes is one truck to bring a road or a neighborhood to a standstill. We try to keep the neighborhood available and accessible for everyone.”

Whether it’s a Sunday, Labor Day, or a rainy day, Sept. 1 is off-campus move-in.
— John Tobin, vice president of city and community affairs

About 10 NUPD officers are detailed, predominantly to the Fenway area, to assist Boston Police. Dwyer said the biggest difference between on-campus and off-campus move-in is the structured schedule and dedicated times for people to move in on campus. For off-campus move-in, it’s less predictable.

And while the information booths set up in Mission Hill and Fenway have the Northeastern name on them, and while volunteers are wearing Northeastern red shirts, Regan said they are there to help all tenants moving in that day—even those without a university affiliation.

“We are out there answering any and all questions, whether they are from a student or a young professional moving to Boston for the first time,” she said.