Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s basketball shooting woes continue as the Minutemen fall 65-62 to UCF -

December 3, 2016

Despite poor shooting performance, UMass men’s basketball shows improvement on defensive end -

December 3, 2016

Notebook: Ty Flowers shines in UMass men’s basketball’s loss to UCF Saturday -

December 3, 2016

Ray Pigozzi shines in first game back for the UMass hockey team since November 4 -

December 2, 2016

UMass starts hot, finishes strong in upset win over No. 12 Notre Dame -

December 2, 2016

SGA vice president will resign at the end of the semester -

December 2, 2016

Raise the Flag protestors praise -

December 2, 2016

Dining and Housekeeping employees at Smith College seek new contract -

December 1, 2016

In response to election, immigration lawyer briefs students on potential changes -

December 1, 2016

Avinoam Patt discusses the role of displaced Jews in the creation of Israel -

December 1, 2016

UMass women’s basketball falls to Hartford, snaps three-game winning streak -

December 1, 2016

Brison Gresham makes long awaited debut for UMass men’s basketball -

December 1, 2016

UMass hockey hosts No. 12 Notre Dame in Hockey East doubleheader -

December 1, 2016

UMass men’s basketball picks up fourth straight win as it tops Wagner Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

December 1, 2016

UMass hockey gets chance to bond during trip to Belfast -

December 1, 2016

The true backbone of America -

December 1, 2016

Letter: Craig’s Place to fight against fatal budget cuts -

December 1, 2016

Enduring the 2016 Tower Run at Du Bois Library -

December 1, 2016

C.J. Anderson, Malik Hines each have career nights in UMass men’s basketball’s win over Wagner -

November 30, 2016

Panelists talk about their experiences with incarceration in the Feinberg Lecture Series -

November 30, 2016

Bumming it UMass style

It’s 5:21 a.m. and I’m sitting at the top of the ramp outside Whitmore wondering to myself: “Why am I not asleep?”

I got here roughly an hour ago with my now ex-roommate Jake. Believe it or not, there was one guy, Greg, crazy enough to beat us there. He’d been waiting since 10:00 p.m. the night before.

Why am I here? To stop being homeless.

It started a week ago when I came back to Amherst a week before the regular move-in day. Because I work for this fine publication, I came up Monday, Aug. 31 to work on the production process, which took a few days. I decided that, in the mean time, I’d crash at a couple of peoples’ places until I got to move in on Sunday, Sep. 6.

In retrospect, I realize that this absolutely made me a bum.

Everything was going as planned until Thursday. Oh, Thursday. I had gone into Wheeler, the dorm I expected to live in, to visit a couple of friends. However, they had gone to the Route 9 Diner without telling me (thanks guys). So, with nothing to do, I went to my room-to-be just to check it out.

This is where the trouble began.

The door to 121 Wheeler was supposed to have the names Nicholas O. and Jake D. on the door, to designate the tenants. Instead, I saw Chris and Dan. With move-in in three days away, this was not a good sign.

After speaking with the wonderful folks and consulting my SPIRE account, it quickly became apparent that neither me nor my roommate had a housing assignment. We had no place to live. Then there was the bad news: I had to tell my mom.

According to SPIRE, I never requested a housing appointment, which is weird because my roommate and I distinctly remember skipping class for our appointment so that we’d get the best room possible. I guess “select room” doesn’t mean what it used to mean.

When I inquired as to why I didn’t have a place to live this semester, a very kind lady at the housing assignment office informed me that I never requested a housing appointment and, being a junior was not guaranteed housing. She then suggested I look for off-campus housing.

And therein lies the problem of attending a big school where our academic lives are maintained by the second cousin of Skynet. You can get lost in the system.

Did my roommate and I screw up? I don’t think so, but that was about five months ago. Did the system screw up? I don’t know, the servers won’t return my calls.

It’s no fault of the housing people, they didn’t see us hunched over the computer hitting refresh. They saw what SPIRE showed them.

A glitch here, a missed click there, a hold here and you’re screwed. Whether you like it or not, we’re at the mercy of SPIRE. And like any machine, it’s a cold, cruel mistress that is one California governor away from ending us all.

Like a lot of people out there, my roommate and I got lost in the system. Our housing assignment (for whatever reason) never got processed and we never knew it. It happens all the time. The problem is, most people have only their Facebook statuses to complain about it. Status updates, though, will inform a mind-boggling amount of people of your problems. If only there’s something we could do about it.

But we can’t. It’s the product of a cruelly efficient system. Yesterday in class, my professor talked about how she would have to stand in atrociously long lines with a card to slip into a computer to pick classes. We don’t even have to put pants on.

Yes, SPIRE’s a good system and manages the get everyone’s business done with rare exceptions. The issue is that, with such a large system on such a large campus, people can fall through the cracks and, with an inflexible system, you’re kind of boned if something goes wrong.

This one goes out to all the little people. The ones whose classes get mysteriously cancelled, whose computers freeze long enough for them to not get into that class and those who spent an hour trying to figure out why they don’t have the right amount of credits.

Because, with no way to go around SPIRE, we end up with conversations like this: “So should I have him bring a tent?” my mother asked.

“Oh, there’s no need to camp out,” the employee on the other end said, referring to the walk-in appointment.

“No, to live in.”

It’s always nice when Mom’s got your back.

Nick O’Malley ended up getting a dorm in Northeast and now has a bed. He can be reached at nomalley@student.umass.edu.

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