UMass CHCRC dorms not exclusive to honors students

By Steffi Porter

This article is part five in a series addressing student reactions to the Commonwealth Honors Complex.

James Jesson/Daily Collegian

The Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community (CHCRC) at the University of Massachusetts does not exclusively house members of the Commonwealth Honors College.

The new buildings, constructed in 2012, which students moved into for the first time this semester, are known as a place for those with the highest GPAs, centrally located  near the Recreation Center, library, campus center and  many classroom buildings.

As it turns out, the dorms believed by some to be beacons of exclusivity really just give first priority to honors students, and house non-honors students if there are rooms left over.

According to Student Customer Service Lead at Residential Life Brian Boates, sometimes students cancel their housing for reasons like studying abroad or selecting other housing options. It is when this happens, if no other honors students select the spot, that it can go to any student with a high enough priority number to get it.

Student Government Association President Zac Broughton is one of the non-CHCRC students residing in these dorms. But he didn’t just get into his building, Birch Hall, because of a high housing priority number. He got in because he is an experienced RA.

“Including non-CHC students diversified the area,” Broughton said. “We have RAs who are phenomenal and are great at what they do and aren’t members (of the honors college.)”

Broughton says there is nothing strange about being in the honors dorms without being a part of the Honors College, saying that the dorms are very nice, very quiet and have a great location.

John Kuselias, a junior accounting major who is an honors dorms resident and member of CHC, had no idea there were any non-CHC students residing in these residence halls.

“I think it’s totally fine, I have nothing against it. I know they’re trying to build an honors community or whatever, but if there’s an empty room and no one’s living there I don’t see why it matters,” he said.

The view that there is no division among CHC students and non-CHC students is one shared by junior Lauren Higgins, who lives in one of the honors buildings and is not a CHC student.

“Nobody’s said anything to me about it, no one really knows, no one really cares,” she said.

She explained that after living in Sylvan and selecting a room change, she was lucky enough to get her first choice, a room in the CHCRC.

Broughton said one of the things he likes best about living in this building is having a suite, and a single room within that suite, giving the best of both worlds living alone and having roommates.

Broughton was selected as an RA for the honors dorm because he had experience and building a new community on campus in these brand new buildings would face challenges.

The CHC honors dorms cost significantly more than typical dorm rooms. A shared room in one of the first-year student halls costs $3,107 per semester, while a single is $4,101. Prices in other buildings reach as high as $4,501.

Boates said this is due to the vastness of what the honors dorms have to offer, and how new the buildings are.

Kuselias described the dorms as “a little expensive” and “pretty quiet,” but for the most part not very different from any other dorms. He chose to live in these dorms because of its prime location.

“If you meet someone it’s not like, ‘Oh you’re an honors student.’ It’s, ‘Oh hey, you’re a person who lives here,’” Kuselias said, adding that the dorms probably give off a snobbish or exclusive vibe to some students.

“I’ve never felt that I’m better than anyone else,” he added. “It’s just a place I live.”

Steffi Porter can be reached at [email protected]