It’s Christmas In Allston, But Few Are Merry

As college students flooded back into Brighton and Allston today, the administration of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ’09, prepared for the day that has become known as “Allston Christmas” — a reference to the detritus that lines the streets on Sept. 1 — by increasing the number of safety inspections conducted by city officials, all in the hopes of minimizing the chaos for which the day has become notorious. This marks the first “Allston Christmas” since a Boston Globe series exposed overcrowding and safety violations in many off-campus student residences. Students shared their thoughts on their hectic move-ins with The Heights, and Walsh held a press conference at which he discussed the importance of safety in neighborhoods dominated by students.

 

Images by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor

BC In Talks To Book The Weeknd, Shwayze For Fall Concert On Oct. 16

The new Campus Activities Board of Boston College and Associate Director of the Office of Student Involvement Mark Miceli confirmed today that they are working toward booking Canadian R&B artist The Weeknd and rapper Shwayze for BC’s Fall Concert. The show is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 16 in Conte Forum, but the time and other details have yet to be announced.

The Weeknd is best known for three mixtapes released in 2011—House of BalloonsThursday, and Echoes of Silence—as well as the artist’s studio debut album, Kiss Land.

California rapper Shwayze broke out with the 2008 single “Buzzin.” His latest release, Shwayze Summer, came out last July.

*An earlier version of this post stated that The Weeknd and Shwayze had officially committed to performing at the Fall Concert; The Heights was subsequently informed that the booking is not final.

O’Neill Library Will Replace Gargan Hall As BC’s Late-Night Study Space

The main room of Bapst Library will be replaced by O’Neill Library as the 24/5 study space for students when classes start at Boston College in a few weeks. Just as Gargan Hall did in past years, O’Neill will remain open continuously from Sunday through Thursday, and close at 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Bapst will close at 2 a.m. Both spaces will still be open 24/7 during study days for exams.

With more space and more staff, said University Librarian Thomas Wall, O’Neill is the University library that best provides what he termed a “blended landscape”—a space with a host of different opportunities for students, including technology use, research and material circulation, locations for isolated quiet study, and group study spaces.

“When I first got here, I wouldn’t have even considered having [O’Neill] open 24/5, because the facilities hadn’t been looked at with any eye toward how people use it since the building opened, frankly,” Wall said.

Before working at BC, Wall was involved with the design of new libraries in Chicago and at the University of Pittsburgh and Duke University. He’s also written about the subject of library functionality, and says that transforming library spaces is his professional specialty.

Gate counts at the University’s libraries have tripled since Wall arrived six years ago. In O’Neill alone, the number of users has risen from approximately 600,000 per year to the range of 1.5 to 2 million. Wall attributes this change to efforts that have been made every year to make the space more user-friendly. He estimates that around 400 seats have been added in O’Neill, including the study rooms on the first floor and the large room left of the entrance on floor three.

As gate counts accelerated in O’Neill, Wall and the library staff began paying attention to student use patterns. On a typical weeknight, he said, there weren’t many students left in Gargan Hall after 1 or 2 a.m., while as many as 30 to 50 people had to be kicked out of O’Neill on a regular basis.

Wall consulted with the Quality of Student Life Committee (QSLC) to get more data on students’ studying preferences, and distributed surveys throughout the two main libraries to get a random sample of student respondents. The survey’s results revealed that—with the exception of the final exam period—O’Neill was, overall, the study space of choice, according to Wall.

“Over there [in Gargan Hall], it’s just a place of quiet study—there’s no technology, there’s no assistance, no circulation, it’s just a quiet study space—which I value, I totally get it,” Wall said. “We don’t want to discount the ambiance of Gargan Hall, we all love it. It’s phenomenal. But in terms of what’s best for students in those hours between 2 in the morning and 7 or 6 in the morning, [O’Neill] provides more opportunities for them.”

Those opportunities will include the equipment from the Campus Technology Resource Center (CTRC), which closed over the summer. Its computers have been moved to O’Neill’s third floor, with multimedia software and hardware in O’Neill 205, and additional printers on the first and third floors.

Construction of the new teaching center, in the old CTRC space.

Construction of the new teaching center, in the old CTRC space. Eleanor Hildebrandt / Heights Editor.

The Center for Teaching Excellence, an initiative to support and improve the teaching practices of faculty and graduate students, is set to open in the CTRC’s old location.

“The Center will sponsor events, seminars, grants programs, and awards, new and ongoing, and will cooperate with Boston College schools and departments to support their efforts to enhance and review teaching,” said Vice Provost for Faculties Pat DeLeeuw in an email. “It will house the existing Instructional Design and eTeaching Services, including its Interactive Media Lab and learning management system, as well as the Writing Fellows Program and the Apprenticeship in College Teaching Certificate Program for graduate students.”

A door is currently being built on the second floor of O’Neill that will provide direct access to the Center for Teaching Excellence, and will open concurrently with the Center. The construction project reflects another consideration in the decision to keep O’Neill open overnight: ease of access for people with disabilities. Complaints have arisen in the past about Gargan Hall’s inaccessibility; while not the sole concern, Wall said, it was certainly a factor.

“As we tried to say, ‘Okay, what are all the variables here?,’ that was one of them,” Wall said. “We knew that there were accessibility issues, and we’ve been addressing those aggressively … there’s been a big push on campus to become much more accessible—to be accessible, fully, not ‘much more’—and the library’s equally committed to that.”

Wall also noted that the shift is not based on a desire to save money; in addition to the past and present construction changes to O’Neill, he anticipates that costs will increase in the fall with the provision of minimal late-night services. While Gargan Hall only required the presence of security to remain open, O’Neill will likely have two to three students and one staff member working as well, in order to help with circulation and reserves.

Finally, he emphasized that the University library staff and administration is open to feedback about the switch, and the facilities in general. Almost every change to the libraries—including both design and functional adjustments, such as leaving all libraries open 24/7 starting a few weeks before final exams—has involved student input through QSLC.

Although QSLC is the only student group with which the libraries work directly, he said, all students’ requests are taken seriously.

“We all have blind spots,” Wall said. “If we didn’t have our ears and eyes open to other people’s perceptions, we’d be fools.”

Featured image by Daniel Lee / Heights Senior Staff

No, Really, Park In The Mod Lot At Your Own Risk

Massive flooding hit Boston this morning, causing damage across the area and forcing the T to switch to shuttle service between the BC and Washington Street stops. The water also swamped the Mod Lot, the lowest point on BC’s campus.

Rev. William B. Neenan, S.J., Dies At Age 85

Rev. William B. Neenan, S.J., vice president and special assistant to the president at Boston College since 1998, died last night. Neenan, who celebrated his 85th birthday last January, served at BC for over 30 years in various capacities, including the University’s first Thomas I. Gasson, S.J. Professor; the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; and, from 1987 to 1998, the Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties.

Neenan was known throughout campus for the small ways he reached out to students, such as hosting lunches for students from different parts of the U.S. and releasing an annual recommended reading list, called “The Dean’s List.” In addition, the Neenan Society, which was established in 2009 and named in Neenan’s honor, recognizes alumni who consistently support BC, regardless of donation level.

The University confirmed the news of Neenan’s death shortly before 11 a.m. this morning on Twitter, sending out a picture of him with the caption “Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the passing of our beloved friend Fr. Bill Neenan, SJ.”

No funeral arrangements have been made public yet.

William Bolton Premieres “Let’s Stay Together” Video, Discusses Album

William Bolton, CSOM ’16, premiered the music video for “Let’s Stay Together” this afternoon, and released the single for sale through his self-managed Shopify store. The track was initially previewed through Bolton’s Soundcloud account earlier this spring, and has racked up more than 70,000 plays over the last three months. It will be featured on his forthcoming album Summer Breeze, which he expects to release later this summer. He is also currently working in New York City with Grammy-nominated rapper and producer Ryan Leslie on a new extension app for Shopify. The app will offer support tools for artists looking to independently produce and sell their music, capturing data on fan base and sales. The Heights spoke with Bolton about the new video, Summer Breeze, and his project with Leslie.

Heights: What can you tell us about the “Let’s Stay Together” music video?

Bolton: For the “Let’s Stay Together” video, I worked with my director—his name’s Adaa Ardekani, and he goes to school at Elon University in North Carolina. So I flew down to Elon in late April, and we filmed the music video. We actually got it done then, but then we took some time with editing. Adam’s actually living with me in New York right now—we’re both working for Ryan [Leslie]—and we’re planning some more music videos for the summer.

Heights: What’s the concept behind this video?

Bolton: The concept behind the video was: Let’s stay together. [laughs] No, more like, let’s go down to North Carolina. Adam actually had these two friends from school that were dance majors from Elon, and they put together a whole routine to the song. So we came for the routine. I got down there, practiced it with them, did some of the moves and figured the placement out, and we filmed that in a few different locations—we actually got on a rooftop for some of it. It was just a really fun video. We literally shot for two days straight.

The song itself has its own kind of retro feel to it, so the video has that as well. I mean, naturally by what I’m wearing, but also the style we filmed it in, how we edited it. You’ll be able to tell when you see it.

Heights: So what’s currently going on with your music?

Bolton: Yeah, so I actually have an album coming out this summer, called Summer Breeze.

Heights: And what’s the release date on that?

Bolton: It’s very tentative. I’m really close to being finished with the project. It’s just a matter of finishing a few vocals and then mixing it all. It’s going to be July or August. There’s no definite date yet, but I’m getting there.

Heights: How would you say your process is different for making a video versus songwriting?

Bolton: When I write a song, it’s usually something I notice later. I make the beat first, and then I start the speaking and singing. Feelings, exchanges—everything going on inside my head just comes out. Then I organize it, and that’s how it goes. But for a video, since it’s very visual, we sit down with the song—I’ll Skype with Adam—and we’ll literally just listen to it over and over. We’ll ask, if the song was a movie, what sort of movie would that be?

Heights: And this app that you’re working on with Ryan Leslie, is it currently public release?

Bolton: It’s in the beta stage, but it’s funny you should ask, because 50 Cent just joined a week ago. Basically, the whole idea is instead of using iTunes, instead of having a manager, a label, or even using a distributor, the idea is to sell your music through your own website, and when you sell it through your own website, you can get all the data on the people who are buying it. Through iTunes, you can’t. So what Ryan has actually been personally able to do is leverage this data with his most recent album—in Europe, he was able to sell out a 32-city tour. So how it works is you run your stuff on Shopify, and the app organizes the data from Shopify—because Shopify doesn’t do that well—and the app tell you how many customers you have, how much money you made, and tell you where your fans are all over the world.

Heights: So what can fans expect next from you this summer?

Bolton: The Summer Breeze album. I think it’s the best music I’ve ever made—I’m really excited about it.

U.S. Judge Decides Not To Unseal Tapes And Transcripts From Belfast Projects

U.S. district Judge William G. Young decided yesterday not to unseal any of the tapes and transcripts from Boston College’s Belfast Project, according to The Boston Globe.

The oral history project, which collected interviews with former paramilitaries involved with the sectarian conflict known as “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland, became the subject of controversy in 2011 when Young ordered BC to turn over certain tapes that had been linked to the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville in 1972. After fighting the subpoena, the University eventually turned over segments of 11 tapes to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in 2013, in pursuance with a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) between the U.S. and the United Kingdom, which maintains that both countries act in full compliance with each other during criminal investigations.

A number of arrests in Northern Ireland this spring were linked to information contained in the released tapes. Most notably, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was arrested for questioning on April 30—although he was released without charges, his arrest was followed by protests both within Northern Ireland and from members of BC’s own history department, five of whom signed an open letter declaring they had no knowledge of or connection with the project when it was underway. The project’s organizers have been criticized for not vetting confidentiality contracts with a lawyer before giving them to participants; each interviewee was originally promised that their interviews would remain confidential until their death.

The University announced on May 5 that it would release all tapes and transcripts to the appropriate interviewees upon request and presentation of proper identification. BC also stated that it would continue to shield participants’ identities until their deaths.

A few weeks later, NBC News made a legal bid to Young in an attempt to acquire tapes of all of the project’s interviews, arguing that the documents were a matter of public interest by virtue of their relation to “incidents of terrorism and criminality.”

According to The New York Times, NBC’s request was followed by a renewed effort by the PSNI to acquire the rest of the tapes as well.

Young stated that he did not have most of the tapes, as they were returned to the University after he reviewed them for their relevancy to the McConville case, according to the Globe. He has refused to unseal the transcripts that are in his possession, but has agreed to turn over other records, mainly legal arguments, that had previously been sealed.