About three miles away from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, more than 100 students spent this weekend pondering new meanings for the term ‘campus housing’.
For students who are all new transfers from other colleges and universities, their fall semester bargain is well away from the thousands of fellows who live in dorms, suites and on-campus apartments this weekend. Faced with a shortage of dormitory beds for the semester, UMass placed 120 freshmen at the EconoLodge hotel in Hadley, about 15-20 minutes by bus from the Commonwealth’s flagship campus.
On Thursday and Friday, while the 14,000 students living on campus unpacked mini-fridges and duffel bags in their new rooms, 120 transfer students crossed the Hadley border to do the same. As the hotel room slowly transformed into a dorm room decorated with posters, tapestries, string lights, and family photos, the students researched a hotel off Route 9.
With UMass students fully occupying the three-story hotel room for the semester, Jean, the school’s Residential Education Director, who was stationed in the hotel lobby on Friday morning and oversaw the move-in, said: MacKimmie said only 120 students and three resident assistants will be used by the end of the semester.
“This is the UMass dormitory for this semester,” said MacKimmie.
Some students said it was frustrating to live in a hotel far from campus when UMass announced its hotel placement in early August.
But Siobhain Murphy, who transferred from Worcester State University this semester, quickly saw a bright side in her circumstances.
“I was originally just like ‘Dan,'” said Murphy, a Wilbraham junior. “But the more I thought about it, the more I got OK with it.”
The room is air conditioned. A rare luxury on campus at this time of year, with a bed larger than a dormitory and a private bathroom. There is a laundry on site and a pool near the hotel lobby. Murphy also expects the hotel to be quieter than his room in the notoriously busy southwest residential area of UMass.
“I like it. I think it helps me balance school and work and become more independent,” she said.
UMass attributes the housing shortage to a large number of returning students who have decided to live on campus rather than move into houses and apartments around Amherst, and a near-record size freshman class. This semester he has over 5,500 freshmen enrolled at the university, making him the second largest freshman class ever.
The university believes that the increase in students living an extra year in dormitories could be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. , many didn’t enjoy campus life the way they did in the freshman and sophomore years. So many freshmen and freshmen may have decided to make up for lost time by staying in a UMass dormitory for an extra year and immersing themselves in the college campus.
UMass was then forced to house students off campus for the first time since 2005.
When the newest transfer student moved into EconoLodge on Friday morning, parents were standing outside wondering if their kids could easily get to campus without a car.
Some students who live in hotels have their own cars. UMass wanted to let him rent two cars through Zip Car, a car-sharing service available in the hotel’s parking lot, but he couldn’t secure one, MacKimmie said. For transportation to and from campus, students who do not have their own wheels will instead board the Pioneer Valley His Transit His Authority’s B43 bus route, which runs between Amherst and Northampton.
Ryan, the parent of Saugus, whose daughter transferred from UMass Boston to UMass Amherst, worries about the reliability of public transportation. He’s been keeping an eye on his MBTA’s ongoing troubles in Boston over the past few weeks.
Ryan wondered why UMass didn’t invest in its own shuttle service to transport students between campuses and hotels. Because when his other daughter was a student at Pennsylvania State University, he watched overflow her housing student at Penn State University.
“It’s great to have them nearby, but that shuttle service should be a top priority,” he said. “How hard is it for them to get a couple of vans? mosquito?”
“Think about it,” said Ryan’s sister, standing outside the hotel waiting for her niece. you would think.”
UMass originally projected undergraduate enrollment at around 22,700, down slightly from last year. Instead, it will have 22,900 students, an increase of 155 from last fall, the school said in a press release this week.
UMass has a hotel in the center of the campus, but it didn’t have the space to accommodate the transfer student, said Ed Blaguszewski, a spokesperson for the campus.
Most transfer students who live at Econo Lodge can expect to stay there until the end of the fall semester. For the spring semester, the school said students will be prioritized for life on campus.
Students who live in hotels pay a discounted rate of $3,353 per semester (a standard shared room on campus costs $3,920 per semester).
“You never know,” said Janice Choi, a senior and RA who lives in a hotel with other students. She said the area was more isolated from the campus than she expected, but individual communities might provide opportunities for transfer students to bond with each other.
Sophia Gobeil, a sophomore who transferred from Roger Williams College in Rhode Island, said she was upset with her job assignment at first. One of the drawbacks she thought she had was that her students stay away from the campus cafeteria.
“Obviously, we wanted to be on campus,” she said. “But I realized that I could make the most of the situation.”
“This is a much better mattress than any other room I’ve had,” she said at Roger Williams.