UMass announces plans for ski lift in Orchard Hill Residential Area

By Morning Wood Staff

Graphic Created by Grace Benhamroun
(Graphic Created by Grace Benhamroun)

By Papa Johns

The University of Massachusetts announced its long-anticipated plans to install a ski lift for the Orchard Hill Residential Area Tuesday.

UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy described the $3 million installation as necessary for students attempting to make the long, arduous commute from the residential area to the University’s academic buildings.

“In 2016, our administration cannot sit idly by as UMass students are forced to walk up Orchard Hill without the assistance of a ski lift,” Subbaswamy said.

The chancellor described the current distance walked by Orchard Hill residents as “pretty long,” and “totally far away from the dining commons,” and added that students really had no reason to live in Orchard Hill given its inconvenience.

“For students paying thousands of dollars to come to UMass, it is unacceptable for them to have to walk the treacherous path without even a measly ski lift,” Subbaswamy said.

Plans for an Orchard Hill ski lift were first raised in the Student Government Association as freshman Jacob Sandcastles, who represents Orchard Hill, complained of the daily journey.

Sandcastles criticized the lack of a ski lift to take students back and forth between their dormitories and the central campus as unfair to students, isolating them from the rest of UMass.

“Since the creation of Orchard Hill, students have been forced to make this very long and very vertical walk just for the crime of living in Orchard Hill,” Sandcastles said at an SGA meeting held in January. “And this has got to change.”

Sandcastles’ plan quickly gained steam in the SGA Senate, where other senators from Orchard Hill and Central began to support the plan, saying the current distance from Orchard Hill to the rest of the campus “sucks” and is “really annoying.”

John Johnley, a senator representing Central, agreed with Sandcastles, adding that walking home after class during the winter can actually be a hazard.

“I saw one kid wipe out going down it and slide all the way to Baker,” Johnley said. “At first I laughed, but then it made me kind of sad. But then I laughed again.”

Not all members of the SGA supported the plan. Off-campus senator Randall Core, a junior who lived in Orchard Hill before moving to the Townehouse Condominiums, described the benefits of the long walk.

“I mean the walk is pretty good exercise,” Core said. “Orchard Hill and Central are so far away from the gym that most of the people living there are probably going to get out of shape because of the ski lift.”

People began to strongly suspect the ski lift would be unveiled by the University after mysterious blueprints of a “UMass Ski Lift” began appearing on the unofficial UMass Snapchat.

Students seemed excited to ride the lift when it opens, which is currently planned for 2020.

“I live in Orchard Hill, so this ski lift is really going to make life easier for me,” freshman Kendall Jennings said. “I try to stay out of my room as much as possible right now because of the walk, but maybe I’ll be able to spend more time there now.”

“A few of my friends live in Orchard Hill, but I never want to see them because of the walk,” added Heidi Plame, a freshman. “Maybe now though, things will be different. Maybe everything will be different.”

The effect of the Orchard Hill ski lift on student fees and tuition has yet to be determined.

Papa Johns can be reached by fire signal by Totman Gymnasium from 2:30 to 4:30 a.m. on even-numbered days.