Rising sophomores lose out on prioritized on-campus housing for fall 2021

“I realized that there was nothing I could do”

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Ana Pietrewicz / Daily Collegian

By Rachael Dionisio, Collegian Correspondent

On March 30, Residential Life Student Services at the University of Massachusetts sent out an email to students announcing that the University had “approved a fall 2021 on-campus occupancy of just under 13,000 students.”

UMass stated that all available rooms will be filled to capacity and that “new admits for Fall 2020-Spring 2021 and projected sophomores will have the first opportunity to select on-campus housing.”

Just a few weeks later on April 13, Administration and Customer Service Manager of Residential Life Justin Dowd released an email appearing to contradict this saying that UMass “received more appointment requests than there are available spaces in the Fall 2021 Room Selection process.”

On April 20, Assistant Director for Residential Life Student Services Dominick Uguccioni said that the ratio of held beds to each class has been altered due to “around 500 rising junior and senior students” selecting housing by roommate group-forming with students whose appointments had already started, during the rising sophomore selection period.

Based on this information via email, Residential Life Services had added three additional appointment opportunities for students who missed out on housing for the Fall 2021 semester; however, beds still appeared to be limited for students, specifically rising sophomores.

Dev Ahuja, a rising sophomore computer science major, said that he and his pre-designated roommate had signed up for a housing appointment as soon as possible, hoping for an early selection time slot.

“Instead, we got the one on the second day and as we all know, rooms had run out by then,” Ahuja said. “The only [rooms] that were left were Sylvan’s break housing,” which Ahuja included that neither him or his roommate were willing to pay the extra fees for. “Res Life told us that’s all they have,” he added.

Laura Bortnick, a rising sophomore mathematics major, also shared her concerns. “What really frustrated me was that [Res Life] opened housing for students with a normal, on-time appointment, and then reopened it for a second time to those students,” leaving students with a late appointment behind.

“Res Life could have been more understanding,” Bortnick said.

Bortnick also expressed how Residential Life Services could have communicated more efficiently with the students about signing up for an appointment time, considering the flood of weekly emails from all departments on campus.

“I am now living in Sylvan for the fall, which I don’t want to, but am lucky because some people with a late appointment did not get housing at all,” Bortnick added.

Bella Donovan, a rising sophomore architecture major, also encountered similar concerns about the miscommunication from Res Life about housing appointments. Donovan stated that she filled out all of the necessary contracts and forms on Spire once appointment sign-ups opened on March 30.

Yet, when she opened her appointment on the April 13, she was informed that she “had not made an appointment, and would have to sign up for a late [time slot].”

“After calling and emailing housing multiple times, I realized that there was nothing I could do,” Donovan said. She stated that by the time of her appointment, the only housing available was in Sylvan or North Apartments, and ended up picking North, not knowing that that living option was almost double the price of other housing.

“The thing I am most upset about is how poorly UMass dealt with [the housing situation] and the fact that both my roommate and I are ending up with unfortunate housing circumstances,” Donovan said.

Although housing appointments seem to be the main factor in students not obtaining their desired living situation, the roommate group process also played a factor. Although rising sophomores were intended to have the “first opportunity to select on-campus housing” following freshmen, it appears that was not exactly the outcome.

Isaac Zalkind, a rising sophomore economics major, revealed that once his housing appointment opened on April 19 to obtain a double with his pre-designated roommate, all of the doubles were occupied by a single person without a roommate.

Zalkind quoted from the email he received saying “Unfortunately, there is nothing our office can do to manually assist with your request in a live selection process.”

“I emailed the UMass housing department and nearly immediately got a response, but [it] was disappointing,” Zalkind said. “They said that there was nothing they could do to assure me and my roommate the building we wanted, even though countless doubles were being occupied by one person.”

Rachael Dionisio can be reached at [email protected]