Juniors and seniors not guaranteed housing for upcoming fall 2023 semester

University Residential Life also plans to expand accessible and gender-inclusive housing options

Daily+Collegian+File+Photo.

Daily Collegian File Photo.

By Sophie Hauck, Collegian Staff

Juniors and seniors will not be guaranteed on-campus housing for the 2023-2024 academic year, representatives from University of Massachusetts Residential Life revealed during a recent Student Government Association meeting.

Any undergraduate student who requests a room selection appointment on-time has historically had access to on-campus housing. Justin Dowd of Residential Life Student Services said this will no longer be possible because the number of students seeking on-campus housing has exceeded the capacity of available residential buildings.

“We’re going to be shifting to a model that looks a little bit more like [the Commonwealth Honors College] across campus,” Dowd said to the SGA Senate. “We ensure that we build enough shared spaces on campus for any students that are going to be freshmen in fall, as well as any rising sophomores. Private rooms, apartments, any remaining shared spaces will be offered to juniors and seniors.”

“We will run the initial process, and if there are juniors and seniors who will not be able to select spaces, there will be another process that happens later in the summer to offer up any spaces that are canceled,” Dowd said. “There has never been a guarantee [of on-campus housing] beyond freshmen. We’re just being a little bit more direct this year that we do expect that there may be some juniors and seniors that are not able to select the space.”

Director of Residence Education Jean MacKimmie said UMass students will receive an email in December about the new policy for on-campus housing selection.

“That will be a joint communication between us and Off Campus Student Life about housing for next year and really giving rising juniors and seniors the heads-up early that if you are thinking about living off campus, you should do that now and make more space for someone who wants to live with us,” MacKimmie said.

Residential Life created 864 new beds for the 2022-2023 academic year by putting three beds in dorm rooms designed for two beds, transforming common rooms into dorm rooms and placing some transfer students in the Econo Lodge hotel in Hadley.

Dowd said Residential Life implemented expanded housing strategies this semester “because we [had] to find ways to house students,” but they plan to reduce these strategies next year.

623 new beds will be available to undergraduate students in the housing project on Massachusetts Avenue that is “contractually obligated” to open for the fall 2023 semester.

Residential Life also plans to expand gender-inclusive housing options, as students with disabilities will be able to join a disability-defined residential community in Brett Hall.

“All of our DRCs have come out of student engagement,” MacKimmie said. “We are always open to having conversations with students.”

Students in Webster Hall’s gender-inclusive housing program advocated for and won the University’s approval to declare their building’s second-floor bathrooms gender neutral earlier this semester. Class of 2026 Senator Hallie Farmer lives in Webster and asked Dowd what Residential Life will do to continue increasing the number of gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus.

“We are continuing to work with campus as a whole to try to identify where we can make as many spaces gender inclusive as possible, bathrooms specifically,” Dowd said, adding that the process to expand gender-neutral bathrooms “is not going to be easy” and has gone on for several years.

“We’ll be looking to expand those options as well to support and make sure that those communities are available as larger cohorts of students move forward,” Dowd said.

 

Sophie Hauck can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SophieBHauck.