Mutien Marie Hall has a reputation for being one of the most haunted buildings on campus. Its out of sight location gives it a mysterious vibe and the subpar classrooms make it unideal for lectures. To complement the urban myth, Harlequin Theatre Guild (HTG) has held their annual haunted hall in its narrow hallways for six years. Only last year did the group move its operations to William Shaw Little Theater. However, the building may no longer be an option as the University plans to convert it into an on-campus dormitory for international students.
Clamor for on-campus accommodations
Last March, the ASEAN University Network (AUN) conducted an assessment of the University. They covered the school’s campus, facilities, and curriculum, among other things. After which, the AUN team submitted a report to Br. Raymundo Suplido FSC with the results of their assessment and some recommendations.
Among the suggestions, the need for safer and ideally on-campus accommodations was emphasized as a key point for improvement. It is especially important to attract international students to study in the University.
Dr. Laurene Chua-Garcia, Vice President for External Relations and Internationalization, says this is a necessary change for the University since it aims to be more competitive in the international arena.
“Most international students don’t have families they can stay with here in the Philippines. Cultural differences and unsafe areas make it difficult for them to become comfortable. Therefore, we want to make on-campus accommodations available to them so that we may help them assimilate,” she explains.
Aside from assimilation purposes, international students in the University explain that this would also help them feel safer and allow them to concentrate more on
Raito Yagami, an exchange student from Japan, notes that he has become especially worried about being off-campus because of the prevalence of extrajudicial killings. “Although I know I won’t be targeted, I might be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I could be walking to campus and unexpectedly die.”
“The workload is stressful enough, but I become even more stressed when I think about my commute to my condominium in España,” Ranchodas Chanchad, an Indian engineering student, shares.
Mutien Marie Hall as the best choice
Due to the high cost of land in the area, the University is unable to avail of a space nearby to build a dormitory. Instead, they identified the supposedly haunted building as the solution to their problem.
“There were already plans to tear the building down due to a number of reasons,” Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Services Jay Calleja states. “We’re just making sure that the space becomes useful and helps the University achieve its goals.”
Mutien Marie Hall, with its limited number of classrooms and subpar facilities, is one of the least favorite buildings of the students. Professors also try to have their classes moved out of the building due to acoustic and technical problems.
Other than that, Mutien Marie Hall also has the best location. Since it is behind St. Miguel Hall, occupants will be guaranteed their privacy. The passage way leading up to the building also allows security measures to be installed to restrict access.
However, Calleja notes that this was decided upon recently, and so no tangible plans have been made yet. Before having the building designed, they plan on conducting studies and interviews to assess the accommodation needs of international students. The University will also be assessing how other in-city universities offer on-campus accommodations to see how they handled the problem. They also need to look at alternative entrances since regular operating hours stop at ten in the evening.
Sentiments among the students have been mixed. While nearly everyone agrees that the building needs to be torn down, some have questioned it as the best place for a dormitory.
“The space is so small. I don’t think they will be able to put that many rooms,” Agueda Esteban (III, BSED) comments.
Ji-hyo Park (II, BS-ENT) worries about the scary past of the building. “I don’t want anything going knock-knock on my door at two in the morning.”
On the other hand, some students, especially those from outside Metro Manila, feel that accommodations should also be made available to them.
“While I understand that international students may have a harder time finding a place to stay due to cultural differences, students from the province also need assistance since not all of us have family in Manila,” Caramella Uson (III, AB-CAM), who hails from Pangasinan, notes.
Emmanuel Pacquiao (I, AB-POM) from the Sarangani province shares the same sentiments as Uson. “I don’t come from a wealthy family, so finding affordable and safe accommodation is difficult for me,” he shares. “I really think the University should be tending to our needs first before looking at international students.”
The University has yet to release further details on the new dormitory and whether or not there are plans for more. However, construction is expected to begin by the end of the current academic year or the start of the next academic year.