Honors housing shortage may affect 300 students

By Josh Darling

James Jesson/Daily Collegian
James Jesson/Daily Collegian

An increased demand for student housing in the UMass Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community has left “around 300 students” on a waiting list for housing, a current CHCRC resident reported.

The Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community, a six-hall residential area housing 1,500 students in the center of UMass campus, has experienced a demand for its modern accommodations that is far beyond its capacity.

Zac Bears, a junior in the Honors College who has been involved in the community’s current ordeal, reports that “around 300 students are unable to obtain housing in the (Honors College Residential Community) at this time.”

He added that they were “mostly rising sophomores”, who have the least priority when considered for housing.

Reactions to the shortage vary from it being dubbed a “crisis” by some, and accepted as an unfortunate, but inevitable scenario by others.

One student on the waiting list, a sophomore who preferred to remain unnamed, expressed her frustration at the lack of a merit-based system for housing consideration. “I understand the logic behind giving older students preference for space, but it just isn’t fair,” she said. “Things like GPA and community involvement should definitely be considered when there isn’t enough space.”

Dan Curran, a freshman who transferred this semester, offered a different perspective. “I understand why people are disappointed, but I’m definitely not bitter about it at all,” he said. “It’s really nice, it has plenty of amenities, and as a result a lot of people are going to want to live there.”

As to the communal response to the ordeal, Curran added, “Someone set up a Facebook page for people who didn’t get in (the Residential Community) to find roommates and housing situations. It’s not like we’ll all be stuck without a place to live.”

Bears, a resident of the Birch Hall apartments, called naming this situation a crisis “overblown,” citing that housing in the community was, “never guaranteed. There’s only a finite amount of housing within the community, and when demand exceeds that some people are going to be disappointed.”

Bears also said he feels that the current system that assigns preference based on what year students are in is “fair, and makes sense. University policy states freshmen must live on campus, so there needs to be space in the community allotted for them. After that, it only makes sense to give the students that have been here the longest preference in living in such a nice residential area. We’re all honors students, so in that respect we all deserve to live here.”

The community boasts many advantageous qualities for its residents. Its six arboreal-themed halls – Birch, Maple, Oak, Sycamore, Linden and Elm – are located in the middle of campus, within close walking distance of the Recreation Center and library. Roots Café is located within the community, and open until at least 1 a.m. nightly. Its rooms also have central air conditioning.

Residence in the Community requires the membership in the UMass Commonwealth Honors College. Applicants to the College out of high school must have at least a 3.6 GPA, a top 10 percent class rank, and an SAT score of 1300 (reading and mathematics composite).

To apply as a UMass student, the applicant needs at least a 3.4 GPA over a full semester of classes (12 credit minimum). Finally, transfer applicants must either satisfy the minimum credentials required for a freshman admission, or have completed two full college semesters (24-credit hour minimum) with a 3.5 GPA.

Once admitted into the Honors program, students must maintain a 3.4 GPA to keep their membership.

Josh Darling can be reached at [email protected].