System Expected to Meet Demand for Rooms: Hotels, Temporary Spaces
to Handle Overflow Numbers
August 25, 2000
Several hundred students will be placed in
temporary rooms and local hotels when the semester begins, but the
campus is better prepared than a year ago when the dormitory system
was swamped by a large incoming class, according to the director
of Housing Services.
Michael Gilbert said this week that last fall's overflow of students
and a growing demand for on-campus housing prompted Housing Services
to take several steps, including putting 150 permanent spaces
back into service, to prepare for this academic year.
"We've worked very hard since last spring to make appropriate
accommodations to deal with the larger number of sophomores,"
he said. "Earlier this summer, we thought we were in good shape."
However, a growing number of juniors and seniors seem to be planning
to live on campus this fall, said Gilbert. Normally exempt from
living on campus, upperclass students may be coming back to the
residence halls because of improvements such as Ethernet connections
and cable television, or because of a scarcity of off-campus housing,
Whatever the reason, said Gilbert, "The challenge is to accommodate
juniors and seniors."
Because students are not required to secure a space by paying
a forfeitable deposit, said Gilbert, it can be difficult for Housing
Services staff to get an accurate handle on how many students
will actually arrive when the residence halls open. Housing staff
this week projected that 11,038 undergraduates are expecting on-campus
housing. The system has 10,691 permanent spaces.
"The numbers change daily," Gilbert said, noting that 85 juniors
and seniors contacted last week said they will not be living on
campus as planned. "We expect that trend to continue over the
next couple of weeks."
Along with overhauling some rooms and putting them back into
service, he said, Housing Services also freed up some spaces by
moving some older, non-traditional undergraduates into two graduate
student halls, Prince and Crampton. Resident assistants have been
asked to voluntarily accept roommates for periods of one day to
three weeks in return for $100 per week. Some two dozen RAs have
accepted the deal, he said.
Housing Services is also prepared to place between 150 and 200
students in the Lincoln Campus Center Hotel, University Motor
Lodge and the Howard Johnson hotel in Hadley until permanent assignments
open up. About 220 other students may find themselves living temporarily
in converted lounges or study rooms, he said.
According to Gilbert, the use of temporary space and hotel rooms
is a typical occurrence during fall opening. But this year, Housing
Services is aiming to reduce the amount of time students will
spend in the stop-gap accommodations.
Gilbert said students lodged in hotel rooms will have top priority
to move into residence halls as spaces open up. All of those students
should have dorm rooms within a week, he said.
Similarly, students assigned to temporary spaces will be moved
into permanent rooms as they become available.
Gilbert said he doesn't expect a repeat of last year, when some
students spent all of fall semester in temporary rooms.
"It was unusual that we had about 125 students in temporary rooms
for the whole semester," said Gilbert.
But after settling in and becoming part of a floor-based community,
he said, the students were reluctant to split up from their roommates,
even when offered permanent spaces. "If we didn't need to have
the space, we let them stay," said Gilbert.
According to Gilbert, a veteran of five fall openings here, many
students and their parents are initially worried about assignments
to temporary space. But since the rooms are equipped with beds,
telephones, cable TV connections and in some cases, Ethernet links,
most fears quickly fade, he said. "The temporary spaces are very
nice and very well set up."
The students in temporary residence hall spaces receive a pro-rated
rebate of 10 percent per day off their rent. Those assigned to
hotels receive no reimbursements.
Even with fall opening just more than a week away, said Gilbert,
a "surprising number" of juniors and seniors are still applying
for on-campus housing. Those students are being placed on a waiting
Now all that remains to be seen is how many students actually
report for housing.
"We don't know how many no-shows there will be," said Gilbert.
"We're still hopeful. Our goal is to have fewer students in temporary
space for a shorter time."