Sylvan adds first-year hall, welcoming over 400 freshmen

McNamara has been transitioned to a first-year hall

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Sylvan adds first-year hall, welcoming over 400 freshmen

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Abigail Charpentier, News Editor

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The Sylvan Residential Area doesn’t often fall onto the radar of first-year students, but it may this year. As the size of the incoming class increases, the University of Massachusetts is encouraging more students to live in suites in Sylvan.

The University is highlighting more options this year to new students, including an economy triple room, large double rooms redesigned to house three students, expanded quads, lounges redesigned to house four students, and McNamara suites, suites housing six to eight students in a combination of single and double rooms.

Living prices in Sylvan fall on the cheaper end of the spectrum of UMass on-campus living. A single room in a McNamara suite costs $4,245.50 and a double room in a McNamara suite costs $3,225.50. In terms of other “standard” rooms on campus, a single room is $4,655.50 and a shared room is $3,534.00.

Along with McNamara Hall, the Sylvan Residential Area consists of two other buildings: Brown Hall and Cashin Hall. The three residence halls contain 64 suites, each consisting of double and single rooms, a common bathroom and a common living room.

Over Labor Day weekend, 420 first-year students and 250 transfer students moved into the area, according to Mary Dettloff, the deputy director of the office of news and media relations.

McNamara Hall was previously a building for multi-year students but transitioned to a first-year hall that provides the Residential First-Year Experience.

“While it doesn’t traditionally participate in the RFYE, for this academic year, McNamara Hall staff will be following the RFYE curriculum to ensure we provide the first-year students living there with a similar experience to all other first-year residence halls,” Dettloff said in an email.

In order to do so, the University adapted the curriculum to fit the needs of students living in the suites.

“For example, in addition to Residence Assistants facilitating roommate agreements in the fall, they will also be facilitating suitemate agreements,” she said.

The Residence Hall Association is also working to welcome new students to the area. RHA President Tobiah Passett, a public health and legal studies senior, announced that an event will take place on September 26.

“It’s aimed toward the transfer and first-year student community because McNamara is now a first-year hall, so there are going to be a lot more first-year students out there and already the transfer students are mostly up there,” he said.

“We’re looking into doing fueled games. They now have fire pits up there so we are planning a night of fueled games around the fire pits and maybe get[tting] BabyBerk to come up and give people free food,” Passett explained.

McNamara is also home to the Sylvan Snack Bar, a student-run business that operates out of the building’s basement. On Sundays through Thursdays, 7 p.m. to 11:45 p.m., the student-run cooperative offers late night dining, with delivery to Cashin, Brown and the North Apartments.

Brown and Cashin are both multi-year halls which “are designed to provide sophomores, juniors and seniors with enriching experiences, autonomy and self-discovery, continued learning and connections with a diverse group of UMass Amherst students,” according to UMass.

Cashin is the area’s Residential Service Desk, where students can pick up packages and request back-up keys for their rooms. Cashin is also a break housing hall where residents do not have to leave during Thanksgiving, Winter session and Spring break.

For years, Sylvan has received a bad rap, and for years, students have come to its defense. Several OpEds have been published in the Collegian, such as this one and this one, but students across campus tend to believe this residential area in the northern-most part of campus sequesters students.

“Contrary to popular belief, Sylvan residents are not isolated from one another. The unique set-up of the suites provides each suite with their own common room, fitted with couches, tables and chairs. In addition to these living room-like spaces, there are many other unique common areas in Sylvan for residents to enjoy and socialize in,” Dettloff said.

Abigail Charpentier can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @AbigailCharp.