Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Workshops provide off-campus housing info

Hannah Cohen/Collegian

University of Massachusetts Off Campus Housing and UMass Student Legal Services have offered multiple workshops over the past three weeks with an aim at preparing students who are interested in living off campus next year.

“Renting 101: Your First Apartment,” presented by Student Legal Services Senior Staff Attorney Carol Booth, has made appearances in Berkshire, Franklin and Worcester Dining Commons, and has provided students with necessary information regarding tenant responsibilities and legal rights.

According to Thea Costine, Manager of Off-Campus Student Services, managing an off-campus household is not something that most students have thought about, which is why these workshops are made available to the student body.

“We want [the students] to learn how to budget money efficiently, how to figure out how to protect yourself when managing money amongst people who aren’t family members, and we want to teach them about certain laws that will be useful to know when living independently,” said Costine,

In her presentation on Tuesday night at Worcester, Booth highlighted the importance of knowledge of the law once living outside the grounds of the school, as an independent person.

Samantha Wilson, a biology student who will be attending grad school and living and teaching off campus next year, went to the presentation in order to learn useful information that she could incorporate into her independent off-campus lifestyle next year.

“I feel that most of the information is basic knowledge and common sense,” said Wilson. “But I want to possibly learn a couple of little things, such as helpful tips and hints on what to look for and what to avoid.”

Booth explained how it is one thing to live in the residence halls, where the laws are more or less commonly known, and a Residential Assistant enforces the rules.

Off campus there are laws that, most likely, you won’t know about unless somebody tells you about them, according to Booth. And unless one knows, the risk of making a mistake is higher.

Certain laws such as nuisance laws were covered, and students were cautioned about the Amherst law which states that it is illegal to house more than four unrelated people together.

Costine said that this year, there was a greater need for students to attend the off-campus workshops because some students are going to have to live off campus, whether they want to or not.

“Every year there are people who say ‘OK I want to live off campus now,’” said Costine.  “This year there are going to be people who want to live on campus, but can’t, so they may not have gone through the progression of feeling comfortable about living more independently.”

Earlier in the semester, Residential Life announced that they anticipate a shortage of approximately 200 beds in fall 2012. While housing has tried to combat this by adding 300 economy triples in Northeast, Central and Southwest Residential Areas, Costine described the situation as unfortunate.

“It is what it is and it’s unfortunate,” said Costine. “Housing absolutely wants everybody to live in the residence halls who want to live in the residence halls. But in order to grow and do some of the things that the campus wants to do for the future, we have to make sacrifices.”

In fall 2013, the new Commonwealth Honors College multi-building complex will open. The project will house approximately 1,500 students, which will help alleviate the housing situation.

But for now Costine and Booth want to ensure that the students are comfortable, and well informed in case they need to live off campus.

“This is just a short-term issue and we will try to provide the students with almost everything they need to know, in order to live off campus successfully,” said Costine.

Taylor Snow can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at MDC_Snow.


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