Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass houses undergraduate transfer students in a local hotel to combat over enrollment

The University turned to the Econo Lodge to house students this semester
Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian (2016)

On Aug. 7, 2022, University of Massachusetts notified 117 transfer undergraduate students, along with three resident assistants, via email that they would be housed in the Econo Lodge hotel located in Hadley instead of on campus.

The email came one day prior to housing assignments in order to inform students of what the hotel move-in process would look like. UMass also held two info sessions over Zoom on Aug. 8 to further explain the details sent in the email.

UMass admitted hundreds more first-year students than anticipated, resulting in a lack of on-campus housing. In an effort to create more beds, UMass utilized economy triples and quad designed rooms. They eliminated COVID-19 isolation housing, giving them 200 extra beds. Additionally, office spaces were converted to dorms creating 60 additional beds.

Despite these efforts, the University was still short on housing for its students.

UMass chose to keep all first-year students on campus, making what is traditionally transfer housing in McNamara Hall available for freshmen students. However, this left transfer students with less on-campus housing options.

“It was either put freshmen in a hotel or put transfers in a hotel. We were not putting freshmen in a hotel,” said Dawn Bond, director of Residential Life Student Services.

Bond confirmed that the University was aware of the need for more beds on National Decision Day, May 1, 2022. With this knowledge, UMass began to send housing proposals to multiple hotels in the area surrounding campus.

After hearing back from several hotels, UMass ultimately decided on the Econo Lodge.

“The Econo Lodge had more of what we were looking for our students and was the closest school to our campus. It had also been an operating hotel, so it was staffed and newly renovated,” Bond said. “The Econo Lodge had been working with local colleges around some isolation housing, so they were already in the business of working with higher ed institutions.”

UMass recognizes that living in an off-campus hotel is not ideal for students. Bond noted that the University has made as many accommodations for the students in the Econo Lodge as possible. Students living in the hotel pay $3,353 compared to the price of $3,920 for a standard double dorm on campus.

Bond said that to help make the hotel more comfortable, students were able to have their linens washed and room cleaned once a week, courtesy of the University. UMass created a hospitality room including continental breakfast.

The University gave students an outdoor space at the Econo Lodge with a tent and outdoor furniture. Students with cars could park at the hotel for free, although if they wanted an additional on-campus parking pass, they still had to pay.

To assist with poor internet connection, UMass installed Wi-Fi routers in each room. There were three resident assistants, one on each floor, to help create a dorm-style structure within the hotel.

Despite the provided accommodations, some students expressed grievances about the situation. Michael Romulus, sophomore economics major and Middlesex Community College transfer, had signed up for housing, but was informed about the possibility of being assigned to the hotel during orientation. On Sept. 2, 2022, he moved into the Econo Lodge.

“They had Minute Movers to help us. I remember I had trouble figuring out all the logistics because it’s far away from campus,” Romulus said. “I have never been to a four year college before, so it’s just a rough transition.”

Romulus voiced concerns about adjusting to the University as a transfer student. “It just provided so many challenges because I’m new. I would forget things sometimes and [realize] I can’t go back to the hotel,” Romulus said.

Junior mathematics major Abdullah Stillman explained the challenge of only having one temporary bus stop in front of the hotel. “The bus stop was not real, and more just a patch of grass,” Stillman said.

The B43 bus route, which runs every 50 minutes, was the sole bus line that could take students to and from the hotel. Stillman noted how this resulted in difficulty maintaining connections on campus. “When you have to plan all your excursions around a bus schedule, it becomes tiring,” he said. “I couldn’t attend clubs and events, and in between classes, there was no way I could go back to the hotel.”

Bond said that UMass had housed students in hotels throughout 2003, 2004 and 2005, so the school was familiar with difficulties that could arise with using hotels for housing. “We haven’t been in a hotel in 17 years. We knew how to do this. It had just been a long time,” Bond said.

While sophomore psychology major Jack Rangaiah found living in the hotel frustrating, he also noted positives. “The rooms are bigger than the one I have here [Southwest Residential Area]. There’s a TV in the room which was cool. They did have people doing our laundry,” Rangaiah said.

Aidan Mitsis, a sophomore communications major, moved back onto campus. Mitsis went through the application to rehouse and got a bed in a triple in Southwest. Students who choose to remain in the hotel will get priority of housing for the spring semester. However, if they choose to move back to campus, that benefit is revoked.

“I feel like I should still get priority because I’m in a forced triple and the first month of school has been demoralized on how I wanted my experience here,” Mitsis said.

Bond explained that with seniors graduating in December and students going abroad, UMass will have the beds to move the rest of the Econo Lodge students back on campus. Currently, around 50 students remain in the hotel.

In order to provide additional on-campus housing, there will be over 600 undergraduate beds built on Massachusetts Ave., set to be available in the fall of 2023. “Fingers crossed we are not going to be in a hotel or even thinking about a hotel especially with the additional beds with the project across the street,” Bond said.

Corinne Arel can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @CorinneArel_09.  Olivia Capriotti can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @CapriottiOlivia. Mia Vittimberga can be reached at [email protected].


View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • D

    Dr. EdOct 20, 2022 at 2:08 pm

    Get real, they are planning on students flunking out. Or quitting.

    And this is about having full dorms in the spring. It’s all about the money…