Housing Officials Work to Accommodate High Number of New, Returning Students at UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. - A large first-year class and an increased number of students choosing to live on campus as the new academic year begins are posing a challenge for Housing Services staff at the University of Massachusetts.

The higher numbers will result in approximately 400 students being housed in temporary space either in a residence hall or at the Campus Center hotel, according to Housing Services Director Michael Gilbert. Of that total, some 300 students will be accommodated in "swing spaces" in the residence halls - for example, in a lounge or other open area ? and approximately 100 students will be housed in the hotel.

Gilbert stresses these are only temporary arrangements, because the number of students requiring housing typically changes within a few days and during the coming weeks. He says the initial housing crunch stems from a number of factors: a larger-than-anticipated first-year class (4,050 students, up from last year’s total of 3,866); higher sophomore retention rates; more transfer students; and a lower attrition rate from the residence halls among returning students. Permanent capacity in the residence halls is approximately 10,700 beds for undergraduate students.

"Everyone who indicated to us by the summer deadline that they wish to live on campus will be accommodated," says Gilbert. "We have the capacity to meet the demand."

Gilbert asked for patience from both students and parents while his staff works to meet students’ needs. Gilbert says his staff continuously monitors the number of open beds in the residence halls, and as soon as permanent space becomes available, students in temporary housing will be offered a permanent room assignment. Students temporarily staying at the campus hotel will be the first to be moved to a permanent space, and he predicts that will happen during the first week after students return to campus.

Gilbert noted that more students are opting to live on campus because of its lower cost and the area’s tight rental market. "For the last two semesters, we saw about 100-200 more students returning to the residence halls, and I expect that trend will continue," says Gilbert. Citing improved cable television service, Ethernet connections for access to the Internet, high-quality residence staff, and improved programming in the residence halls, Gilbert says, "Students are realizing there are advantages to living on campus."