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

Housing and tuition issues create a litany of crises for UMass students

Over 900 students are affected by the University’s housing decisions
Kalina Kornacki/Daily Collegian (2023)

Housing on campus at the University of Massachusetts has been an ongoing issue for many. Over 900 students can’t secure housing for next year, emotions are rising. These were manifested at the sleep-in protest held on campus last week, where students took turns speaking about the issues they’ve run into since being told that there are not enough housing spaces available.

Despite most students at the protest being there for reasons concerned with housing, it did seem that other underlying issues with UMass administration contributed to the unrest and frustration demonstrated. These various issues, whether with housing or tuition, coalesced into a central message: students need somewhere to live, and UMass isn’t doing much to help.

As a transfer and out-of-state student, I am not only unable to commute, but I also don’t know the area or people in the community as well as other students might. Yet when I turned to Residential Life employees for help and guidance on the situation, I was basically told “good luck.” They reiterated that all housing on campus was full and pointed me towards off-campus housing without any other advice to give me. The issue I have with this stems from the priority system that UMass relies on to choose which students are allowed to select housing first.

Your priority number is based on how many semesters you’ve already lived on campus and what year you are. As a transfer student, who will be a junior next year and with only one semester on campus under my belt, my priority number was extremely low, which resulted in my inability to get housing. It didn’t matter how desperate I was to get on campus, or the fact that I was ready at my computer before my appointment even started — I still didn’t even get a chance to select housing before it was all gone. On the other hand, if you spend even one semester off campus — as Residential life suggests — your priority level for housing drops even more, making it highly unlikely that you will get back on campus.

Housing is not the only current issue. Recently, the UMass Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition, housing and dining costs. During a time where many students are feeling insecurity with housing, raising these prices feels like a kick when you’re already down. UMass is a very expensive institution, and although these prices rise each year, this is a year where the University could’ve shown some empathy for its students. Especially with the effects of the pandemic still being felt everywhere, financial insecurity along with housing insecurity is a combination that no one should experience. There is a stigma that college students are always broke, and these situations only seem to exacerbate it.

The University has also recently built apartments on Massachusetts Avenue, by Southwest Residential Area, that I shared my opinion on earlier in the semester. Officials claimed that the new housing would provide “623 beds of undergraduate housing.” What officials failed to mention is that these apartments cost anywhere from $1,504 to $2,256 per month, per student. This is an improbable cost to many students who attend UMass, especially considering the rise in other costs that the Board of Trustees agreed upon.

UMass Amherst has an issue of over-accepting students which has been occurring for multiple years. The over acceptance of students is what led to the housing crisis, and the financial burdens that current students are now being forced to face only worsen the problem. UMass should have accounted for more students wanting to live on campus after the pandemic, and the fact that they didn’t do so is frankly absurd. The University administration could have handled this situation better, and I believe they still have a chance to make a change if they wish to do so. Students can only hope that their voices will be heard, and change will occur as a result. 

Katie Seda can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @KatieSeda_.

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