Northeastern community relations team makes move-in easy for off-campus students

Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Ahead of the start of the fall term, Petrina Danardatu, a fourth-year majoring in English and journalism, feels good about the off-campus apartment that she’ll be sharing with her friends.  

“I’m excited to be close to campus and get the most out of my last year as possible,” Danardatu says.

On Sept. 1, Danardatu was moving into an off-campus apartment along with fellow Northeastern students Rebecca Miller and Hannah Mohtadi. The trio were lucky to land the St. Stephen Street location in the middle of a thriving residential neighborhood between the Back Bay Fens and Northeastern.

The site is one of several off-campus locations that Northeastern students—primarily returning students—covet for its proximity to the university and mix of commercial amenities. 

While the hustle and bustle of move-in week can be seen across Boston’s Northeastern campus, many urban neighborhoods across the city are welcoming Northeastern students too—an effort aided by countless employees and volunteers. 

“We have students in Mission Hill, South End, Roxbury, the Fenway and Fort Hill,” says John Tobin, Northeastern’s vice president of city and community engagement, formerly a Boston city councilor. “Those are the main areas where our students are.”

Tobin says the effort to facilitate move-in for off-campus students is a little trickier than the on-campus operation, as it involves parking and traffic flow. The logistics of off-campus move-ins are also subject to change depending on weather, if the Red Sox are playing and as a result of transportation developments, such as the recent MBTA shutdown, Tobin says. 

“We have a lot of other partners throughout the university and beyond it,” Tobin says. “We’re coordinating and working with the Boston Police [Department] and various other city agencies to have a smooth move-in for our students, but also for those who are moving out as well.”

That rotation can have a more direct impact on the quality of life of Boston residents; so Tobin and his team provide parking alternatives to residents and neighbors who live adjacent to the students in order to cut down on inconveniences. Parking for the movers is limited to one hour in these residential zones to expedite the process for all involved. 

“And after your one hour is up, we let you go to one of our garages,” says David Isberg, assistant vice president of city and community engagement at Northeastern. “That’s what’s worked for the last eight or so years.”

Isberg was on the ground at the St. Stephen Street site, ensuring that students, parents and neighbors enjoyed a seamless move-in experience. It was his 12th move-in week at Northeastern. 

“There are hundreds of student volunteers standing on the street waiting for someone to pull into a spot,” Isberg says. “The goal is to make the experience pleasurable for all.”

Miller, a fourth-year environmental studies major, says she looks forward to settling into her new place. 

“Just to be able to walk around the corner and you’ve got some coffee shops and some restaurants and stuff,” Miller says. “[Giovanni’s Market] is right there—we love Giovanni’s, it’s so wonderful.” 

Mohtadi, also a fourth-year majoring in international affairs and environmental studies, says Northeastern provided the trio with parking permits for their vehicles and hampers to move their belongings. 

“They’ve been very helpful,” Mohtadi says. 

Of course, the stresses of hauling a life’s worth of belongings from a prior unit, up and down stairs and into a new living space across town are unavoidable—and were certainly felt on Sept. 1. But relief was in sight, thanks to Northeastern staff and hordes of volunteers. 

“For us, it’s about caring for our neighbors and working with them, and working with our landlords and property owners to coordinate on this day,” Tobin says. “But it’s also dealing with our kids and their parents; sometimes they’re traveling long distances; nerves can be frayed and all of our teams know that and seek to make things as smooth as possible.”

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