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October 19, 2017

The two F’s of UMass

In the words of my very own dirty door mat, welcome.

Welcome for the first time, welcome for another time or welcome for the last time. In this early issue of The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, I hope to load first time freshmen and new transfer students with some tips, tricks and tools of the trade to make your experience here worth all those pennies.

Today as you read, we’ll be covering the two most important “F’s” that are on everybody’s mind as soon as they step on campus: the facilities and the food. With two years of the UMass college experience under my belt, here goes everything.

It doesn’t take a map to realize just how big campus is, but it sure will help when trying to figure out where your classes are. Because I study journalism and chances are you study something different, it is silly for me to share about specific buildings that a writer might be in, but not a biologist. One academic building comes to mind, however, that the majority of all UMass students will have spent some time in: the Mahar Auditorium.

Mahar 108, as it will read in your schedules, is the largest lecture hall on campus. It sits on Massachusetts Avenue across the street from the Robsham Visitor’s Center and beside the Isenberg School of Management. Although it is labeled as room 108, Mahar is home to one lecture hall. The subsequent numbers refer to bathrooms and utility closets. But enough of the boring logistics, let’s get to the meat.

Mahar is a desirable lecture hall to be in for three reasons. One, it’s air conditioned. Some might wonder if this really is a big deal or not, but compared to a non-air conditioned lecture hall in Thompson that prepares oven-baked students quite nicely, it makes a world of difference. Two, it’s large. You have plenty of room as a student to sit with a large group of your friends, or just hide as an anonymous person. It’s very versatile. Finally, it has two back entrances that must remain unlocked.

These back doors are great for the inconspicuous late slip-in, or the early Friday afternoon getaway. Be warned of the former. When not done correctly, you will have 1,000 eyes at your attention, two of which hold your grade in their pocket.

Facilities are nice, but you won’t make it there without some grub in your belly. Food is a proudly hailed subject here at UMass. Berkshire Dining Commons, located in the Southwest part of campus, is home to award-winning meals with more variety than an Asian supermarket (don’t worry, I’m Asian). Most of it is delicious, some of it is healthy, but most importantly, all of it is edible. When compared to other college dining halls, this last point is a very important.

Most of you new students will be enrolled in a campus meal plan. You will learn in time that the different areas of campus with their prospective dining commons will have different highs and lows. I find that, although the food is phenomenal at Berkshire, finding a spot to eat at peak student traffic times can be stressful to say the least. I have found Worcester to be the quietest of the four DCs with many places to be able to sit alone to study while munching. Hampshire has the most televisions if you’re trying to catch a game, but Franklin has the most open seating for large groups.

The things you will want to do to get the most out of your dining experience are to memorize what nights are special dish nights such as sushi or buffalo wing night in the DC. It’s important to note that, if coordinated correctly, you can eat sushi or Buffalo wings every night of the week. You also need to find the Facebook group for dining commons that offer “late night,” which is food from nine to midnight when other DCs are closed. Once you’re a member, you’ll receive the weekly menu for “late nights”. This is crucial.

Finally, everyone on a meal plan receives special meal swipes that can be used at other places on campus such as the Pita Pit or The Blue Wall. These places offer yet even more food that is arguably more delicious. Although one may want to use them right away, my suggestion is to save them for the end of the semester when Dining Common food gets bland and finals demand a special kick.

Your stay here will be an amazing time and the facilities and food are just a fraction of the college experience. I encourage you to take this insight lightly, and to explore for yourself the actual depth of culture and fun that is held in the life that you now have at UMass. On behalf of the writers at The Collegian, the returning students, reigning faculty and selfless staff – welcome to UMass.

Thomas Moore is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at tjmoore@student.umass.edu.

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