“You can tell who the law students are because they’re all kind of old and really stressed out.” These were the words of a freshman to her friend, overheard by an old and stressed law student, while walking around Boston College’s Newton campus.
BC Law is located within the quiet Boston suburb of Newton. BC’s main campus is located a mile and a half away, in the Newton neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, which directly abuts Boston. The law school shares its home with dorms for about half of the Boston College undergraduate freshmen. For us law students, it can be invigorating and refreshing to be surrounded by such passionate youth. They, however, are unhappy about the arrangement. While all of BC Law’s classes are held on the Newton Campus, all of the undergrad classes, and administrative offices, and social engagements, and sporting events, and access to public transportation are located on main campus. The Newton freshmen are a shuttle bus away from all of these offerings. The other half of BC’s freshmen, in a luck of the draw, reside on main campus, in an area called “Upper.” When I was a freshman at BC, I had the great fortune of living on Upper. One of my friends, relegated to Newton, spent many nights sleeping in Upper’s student lounges, with stashes of toiletries and spare clothes scattered throughout our more fortunate friends’ rooms.
The freshmen have a dining hall (“Stuart”) on Newton campus, which law students can also access. As a consolatory measure, upperclassmen who lived on Newton circulate the rumor that Stuart’s food is better than BC’s other dining halls. It is commensurate. For a while the Newton freshmen made t-shirts with witticisms about the joys of their living situation, most extolling the value of the extra pregame time afforded them through the shuttle bus. There is not much to envy about the freshmen with whom we share our home.
Because law students are older (and yes, more stressed) than the freshmen, it can feel like we occupy parallel universes. They probably envision us living in a version of the Stranger Things “upside down,” described by the Stranger Things wiki as the same as the human world, but “much darker, colder, and obscured by an omnipresent fog.” They wouldn’t be far off. We, in turn, watch with envy as they stretch out on their hammocks, go out on Thursdays, and spend their nights and weekends in the not-library. For the most part, the freshmen don’t bother us, and we don’t bother them.
As a reward for reading this far down, here is a piece of advice for getting the most out of our co-existence with the freshmen. BC dining works on a dining-dollars plan. Undergrads get a certain amount of money each semester, and they must use it by the end of the term; the money does not roll over. Like a debit card, you swipe the card at a checkout, and pay for however much food you are taking. Knowing that they will not exhaust their meal plans, and feeling the Jesuit men and women for others vibe, freshmen are often happy to help out a washed up, stressed out law student who, “oh, shoot” accidentally doesn’t have their wallet, by swiping their card for your meal.