Not enough UMass housing to meet demand

By Katie Landeck

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Due to a high demand for on-campus housing and large freshmen and transfer classes, University of Massachusetts Residential Life has been forced to create 200 economy triple dorm rooms and has denied 257 transfer students housing, according to UMass spokesman Daniel Fitzgibbons.

Hannah Cohen/Collegian

Hannah Cohen/Collegian

“All the students that require housing have a room,” Fitzgibbons said. “We made economy triples because students have said that they really want on-campus housing.”

This year’s freshmen class has 231 more students than last year. The increase coincides with a rise in overall applications – there were 1,714 more this year than in 2010, according to statistics provided by the UMass Office of Institutional Research.

And because freshmen are required to live on campus, about 600 are currently housed in economy triples – rooms built for two students that instead house three. Of those 600, about 150 students requested it.

Transfer students, however, are not guaranteed or required to live in on-campus housing. Therefore, housing was only found for 384 of the 641 transfer students who applied for it.

“There is a high demand for on-campus housing,” Fitzgibbons said. “It is considered part of the UMass experience and is convenient. By making the economy triples, we met the need as best as we could.”

But many of the freshmen that have been assigned to the economy triples, such as Magda Mitaszka from West Boylston, are not as happy with the outcome.

“I am not happy with how UMass handled the situation,” said Mitaska. “If the school didn’t have rooms for everyone, then they shouldn’t have accepted so many students.”

Mitaszka has been assigned to a z-room – a room literally in the shape of the letter ‘z’ – in a dormitory in the Southwest Residential Area. When she first saw her assignment on SPIRE – the University’s online student information system – she thought is was a “mistake.”

“I was not happy upon learning that there’d be three people living in a room that is meant for two. I am worried there won’t be enough space for all our clothes and various items and that the room will feel crowded,” said Mitaszka.

Despite the challenges, members of Residential Life – who declined to be interviewed for this article – believe that economy triples are a better solution than renting out a hotel for the school year as other colleges, such as Westfield State University, have done in the past.

“We have used hotels in the past,” said Fitzgibbons. “It was not an ideal situation. Students were removed from classes and the dining halls. It put students behind the eight-ball before they even arrived on campus. At least with the economy triples, students will feel like they are part of the campus.”

Students placed in economy triples will receive a rebate and have priority if they choose to try to switch out of their rooms. During the first week of classes, there will be a room freeze, but Residential Life will be accepting applications to switch on Friday, Sept. 9.

Some students, such as freshman James Fahey, have already managed to switch out of their room. Fahey was assigned to an economy triple in the Southwest Residential Area, which was also his last choice for a living area. However, he believes he will be able to switch into a double in Mary Lyon Hall in the Northeast Residential Area.

“I switched out through a lot of work,” said Fahey. “I posted on the UMass Amherst Class of ’15 page, had a few trades lined up but then they fell through. In a last ditch effort, I scheduled an appointment for room reassignment and hit refresh until I finally found a double. It was the only double I saw available on the entire campus.”

To switch out of a room, students should go to the housing page on their SPIRE account. More information is also available on the UMass Residential Life page at

Katie Landeck can be reached at [email protected]