The highs and lows of hillside living in UMass’ Central Residential Area

Central offers unique places to visit

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The highs and lows of hillside living in UMass’ Central Residential Area

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

By Chris McLaughlin, Assistant News Editor

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Due east of mid-campus, the Central Residential Area at the University of Massachusetts offers hillside living and a host of unique amenities to students at all elevations from housing, to various services, places to eat and hidden gems that can be found nowhere else on campus.

Housing and Community

Comprised of nine “traditionally-styled” buildings, Central includes three exclusively first-year dormitories, one “SophoMORE” hall and five multi-year housing options for students.

One can take a 360-degree room tour inside a typical Central single and double room on Residential Life’s website.

Incoming class of 2023 students placed in Central will live in either Gorman or Wheeler Hall, toward the base of the hill, or Van Meter Hall, toward the top, near the Orchard Hill Residential Area.

“All Central residence halls are coed,” Living at UMass explained. “However, Van Meter Hall has several female-only floors and male-only floors.”

Brooks Hall also houses freshmen, but only on the first two floors which are a part of the Residential First-Year Experience.

“RFYE halls are designed as living-learning communities where first-year students can engage with their peers around common interests and pursuits,” according to Living at UMass. “First-year halls offer intentional staffing and support to assist students in their transition to the University.”

Additionally, Brooks houses a 24-hour quiet floor and is an alcohol-free residence hall, despite the upper floors housing multi-year students who may be of legal age. Also, Brooks is a barrier-free and accessible hall for students with disabilities.

Brett Hall, located across the street from Brooks, is a multi-year building that is also a “break housing” residence hall.

“This means students who live here do not have to leave during Thanksgiving, Winter session and Spring breaks,” according to Living at UMass. “Brett is barrier-free and accessible for disabled students.”

Central also has communities based on shared interests and types of students. In Butterfield Hall “Creative Expressions” is a multi-year community for students with majors in the fields of art. While the Defined Residential Community “spectrum” offers shared floor living for students who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or as an LGBTQ ally in Baker Hall.

“Spectrum is a comfortable and inclusive community that supports the rights and needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and asexual people and their allies,” according to the DRC’s webpage.“Spectrum is also a space for people who are just beginning to explore their sexual and gender identities.”

“The Spectrum hallway has a gender-inclusive bathroom, and students can request a gender-inclusive room (have a roommate of any gender),” it also said.

Within Chadbourne Hall, a multi-year residence hall, is the Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center which offers a community space for Native American students and cultural events planned throughout the semester.

Food and Dining

Franklin Dining Commons — or “Frank” for short — is the closest dining hall to Central. Open every day of the week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Franklin offers a variety of meal options for hungry college students including sushi, a salad bar, deli sandwiches, a cereal station, pizza, international food, a stand-alone vegetarian station and many standard American fare foods including hard ice cream and grilled cheese.

Franklin also features Certified Kosher Dining 11 a.m. through 7:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Fridays.

For those on the move who don’t have time for traditional sit-in dining, between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays, students can go to the Grab’n Go station located on the lower level of the dining commons facing the Franklin Permaculture Garden.

Other places to grab a bite to eat in the area include the University Club & Restaurant” located inside the oldest building in all of Amherst, Greeno Sub Shop, a student-run collective located in the basement of the multi-year dorm Greenough Hall open Sunday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and cafés in nearby academic buildings such as the Post & Bean Café in the John W. Olver Design Building.

Academic Buildings and Services

In and around Central are several notable buildings which house various departments and services on the UMass campus for students of all majors.

The John W. Olver Design Building, LEED Gold certified, is home to the University’s Architecture, Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning and Building & Construction Technology programs. It features studio and classroom spaces, a large central atrium, in addition to a rooftop garden.

The Studio Arts Building adjacent to the Design Building is home to the Department of Art and also houses studio and classroom spaces, as well as shops for wood and metal working, art critique and exhibition spaces and administrative offices.

New Africa House, located amidst the residence halls of Central, is home to the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies. Within the building there is also the Augusta Savage Gallery, named in honor of renowned sculptor Augusta Savage and founded in 1970 by the Afro-American Studies Department according to the gallery’s website.

“Its mission is to promote artistic works from a broad spectrum of cultures. Exhibits are selected for their aesthetic integrity and their ability to enlighten the viewer on such issues as race, ethnicity, class, and cultural identity,” the gallery’s website further explained.

New Africa House is also home to the Center for Women & Community whose mission is “[t]o provide innovative and informed education, leadership opportunities, advocacy and support services that address the cause and impact of sexism and recognize the multiple oppressions experienced by women,” according to the group’s website.

“We serve people of all gender identities within the diverse communities of Hampshire County, the Five Colleges and the University of Massachusetts,” it also stated.

French Hall, Fernald Hall and Clark Hall are among the other academic buildings in the area. Fernald Hall contains the University of Massachusetts Entomology Collection, a wide array of insect species found locally and around the world, while Clark Hall is home to “a complex of MFA graduate students and faculty studios,” according to its webpage.

Adjacent to Central is University Health Services. According to its website, UHS provides a multitude of services for students, including, but not limited to: allergy shots, eye care, immunizations, nutrition services, orthopedics, pediatrics, pharmacy, physical therapy, radiology, sexual health, tobacco treatment, transgender health and women’s health.

Also in close proximity to Central is the International Programs Office, the home of UMass’ study abroad coordinator.

“Study abroad is possible for students in every major, but it requires planning ahead,” according to the IPO’s website. “We encourage students to visit with Education Abroad as early as the first year.”

Students can also search for programs that meet a variety of criteria such as country, city or region of choice, to fields of study and language of instruction.

Lastly, the Durfee Conservatory, established in 1867, is a short walk from Central.

Durfee’s collection contains five individual houses for different kinds of plants, ranging from tropical to succulents.

“Tucked away in a hustling and bustling campus of over 25,000 students, this greenhouse complex is a sanctuary of calm and serenity,” the Conservatory’s website explains.

“In sunny weather students sit and read in the outside gardens. In the biting cold of winter, many take a few minutes on their way to class, to warm themselves in the ‘rainforest’ room.”

Chris McLaughlin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @ChrisMcLJournal.