If there is one feature of Boston College that cannot be easily explained to a visitor, it is the Mods. Originally erected in 1970 as temporary student housing, the Modulars have been often neglected but never underappreciated by the student body.
Besieged by problems from the moment they arrived on Lower campus, the Mods have become a staple of BC culture, and a rite of passage for students. Having your own Mod is seen as the pinnacle of BC housing, but considering their history, it is a surprise the Mods have triumphed and become a beloved institution.
The first construction of the Modulars happened in 1970, in response to a dramatic lack of beds available for students on campus.
According to the Sept. 15, 1970 edition of The Heights, the housing committee approved them after it became clear that the University desperately needed a better plan for student housing.
Many students that year were forced to live off campus in areas such as Cleveland Circle and nearby hotels. Student response to the offer to live in the six-bed structures was much greater than administration anticipated.
Even then, students were able to recognize what a big deal the Mods would become for BC. When the Mods were first being assembled, the very first pre-built Mod was dropped from a crane and became a spectacular wreck of a building, which prompted a tongue-in-cheek Heights graphic in the same Sept. 15, 1970 issue entitled, “How to Build a Modular in Three Easy Steps.”
The steps were: “Step 1: have your Executive Vice President and the unit’s builder shake hands while part of the unit is lowered into place. Step 2: drop it. Step 3: have your Executive Vice President and the unit’s builder survey the damage.”
Shortly after the start of construction, the pipe fitters and plumbers in the Boston area went on strike. Then the construction got behind schedule, and students were not able to move into their Mods on time, according to the Oct. 20, 1970 issue of The Heights.
The students who were able to move in were greeted by shaky housing with no permanent furniture save for the bunk beds.
Several months later, students discovered that the Mods were not as watertight administrators expected, according to the Feb. 8, 1971 issue of The Heights, because pools of rainwater had formed in several of the new housing units.
Three years later, on Sept. 16, 1974, it was reported that the Mods had to be re-roofed years before they were expected to need any repairs or improvements because water had been building up on roofs and damaging the interiors.
In the Sept. 4, 1979 issue, students arrived back on campus to Mods still filthy from the last year, with food and garbage that had been in them since the previous June. No repairs had been done, and the general state of the Mods was overall dilapidation deemed practically unacceptable for student housing.
The history of the Mods contains a fair number of battles between students and university authorities, clashing over issues of partying and alcohol policies in the Mods over and over.
Students as far back as 1976 protested about regulations on parties, many of which are still in effect today. This includes limits on how many people can attend a Mod party, as well as the guidelines for registering parties and the number of parties each person can register per semester.
Students objected again in 1985 when the University proposed a stricter alcohol policy following the increase of the drinking age to 21, sharply cutting the number of students eligible to drink on campus and the number of people who could live and party in the Mods.
The Resident Advisory Board (RAB) at the time reviewed the proposal, although it was going to be approved whether the RAB gave its stamp of approval.
In 1992, The Heights chronicled another protest in the Mods, this one for their very existence. Students raised their voices against a construction plan that would get rid of a Mod Quad area and six Mods, and relocate 14 more, to make space for a dining hall and more dorms.
The plans eventually went forward despite continuing protests, andCorcoran Commons, Vanderslice Hall, and 90 St. Thomas More were constructed in their place.
In 1993, a story in the March 1 issue of The Heights was written about BCPD raiding the Mods and a supposed “tightening of the reins.” Police confiscated 11 kegs, harkening back to a time when kegs were allowed on campus in the first place.
Featured Image by Samantha Costanzo / Heights Editor