Student Life

Film Crew Takes Over Study Spaces at Brookdale Dorm

In the Before Times there was a liveliness to Brookdale. Staff decorated the halls with Disney posters or pictures of aliens. Students mingled in lounges and played Smash Bros in the game room. Now the only people gathering in a large group are film crews from the “New Amsterdam” crowding the lobby floor.

Photo courtesy of Laura Alvim.

Ever since Brookdale residents got news from Associate Director of Residence Life Joanna Siwiec that the rotunda and cafeteria would be closed off to students frequently throughout February and March, students have had a hard time social distancing in the lobby, which is overcrowded with production crews.

“They take up space that Hunter students could be using in the time they are living in Brookdale,” says freshman Sierra Santiago.

The crew for the NBC medical drama have also taken over the cafeteria and the rotunda. With fewer spaces to study students are constrained to stay in their rooms. Printing is difficult as these places are closed off.

It’s not necessarily that the film crews are disruptive but Santiago says students should be given more notice of when communal spaces like the cafeteria, rotunda and courtyard are going to be closed off. She often used the cafeteria or her floor’s lounge as a study space other than her room. Now she’s stuck in the same 10-by-12 foot room where she sleeps and takes her online political science classes.

Sophomore Nick Lamphier runs into film crew members often. Once as he walked down the stairs of the North building, he opened a door that almost knocked over a man holding camera equipment and into an entire film set up. It’s not his intention to interrupt them but it happens.

“It is kind of cool that the place that we live is on a TV show but at the same time, it can be inconvenient for us,” says Lamphier. “ We see all these people in our building, where we are not allowed to socially gather at all.”

Third year student Laura Alvim sees signs on the wall with the New Amsterdam logo. In between the North building and East building, they set up a hospital waiting room. She hopes residence life staff are making sure the members of the film crew are all getting tested and follow strict protocols as they have to.

A Hunter College spokesperson said all visitors to campus must follow the safety protocols prescribed by CUNY, including the use of the Everbridge app and the NY Forward safety plan. The film studio is required to submit additional safety protocols that they agree to adhere to on campus. 

“The set up in the hallway wasn’t great, it really kind of got in the way of residents because they have to take the elevator,” said Alvim.

Photo courtesy of Laura Alvim.

She also had to wait 15 minutes for the crew to finish filming to use the elevator to get to her dorm room.

Before moving into dorms, residents signed the purple pledge agreeing to follow social distancing rules in communal areas to keep the Hunter community from spreading the virus.

Students are tested every other week, and  they are limited in interacting with other residents. Junior Hannah Kavanagh shares that the closest interaction she’s had with another resident has been in the kitchen either her or the other resident breaks the awkward silence.

“Letting a film crew into the dorms and we don’t know where these people have been, it defeats the purpose, like what message are you trying to send,” says Kavanagh.

Kavanagh says the public safety officers don’t seem to take COVID restrictions seriously, there are times she would walk by and some would not have their masks on or their masks wouldn’t be covering their nose or mouth, below the chin. There is plexiglass at the front desk where they sit.

“You’re supposed to set an example, you are there to enforce the rules, we have to abide by them and so should you,” says Kavanagh of the public safety officers.

Sophomore Aaron Malekan is concerned about not knowing where the film crew are from, if they had recently traveled internationally to be part of the show.

“We are not being told whether or not they are being tested, we know nothing about their own COVID safety while we are held up to high standards,” says Malekan. “They are making us feel like we are the ones spreading the disease.”

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