In a September 2022 article for the Tufts Daily, Liz Shelbred detailed the frustration of students as a result of makeshift living accommodations due to over-enrollment. For most college students, on-campus housing typically consists of a two-person dormitory room, furnished with standard desks, wardrobes, and beds. However, in recent years, this vision of housing is becoming a luxury, Shelbred reported. Instead, as a result of over-enrollment, many students have been shepherded into modular housing and hotels. These makeshift accommodations are creating unrest at Tufts, and students are speaking out.
For several years, Tufts has admitted more students can it can house, despite student grievances regarding the consequences for campus housing options. Other universities that over-enrolled students during the COVID-19 pandemic are now faced with the challenge of housing students arriving on campus after having deferred admission earlier in the pandemic.
In 2022, the University of Massachusetts Amherst converted common rooms and lounges into makeshift dorm rooms that house four students each; some 120 transfer students are currently housed off-campus in an Econo Lodge hotel. Zach Leach, writing for the Massachusetts Daily Collegian reported that other schools, including the University of Utah, Florida Atlantic University, and the University of Cincinnati, are also housing students in hotels, with parking passes and financial awards provided as compensation for makeshift housing arrangements.
By investing in new, more equitable housing, engaging with student demands, and regulating enrollment numbers to match housing opportunities, institutions can support students with the least economic stability and create stronger campus communities. In November 2022, Tufts University announced that it would begin construction in 2023 on a seven-story residence hall that will house 398 students when it opens in 2025.
As of March 2023, the primary reporting on the issue of inadequate campus housing for college and university students has come from student newspapers such as The Tufts Daily and The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. Although corporate news outlets, such as US News & World Report, have reported how higher rents and a nationwide shortage of affordable housing have impacted students, establishment news outlets have not addressed the shortage of on-campus housing and its impact on students.
Liz Shelbred,“Reviewing Housing at Tufts: Can a Crisis Years in the Making Be Put in the Past?” The Tufts Daily, May 22, 2022.
Zach Leach, “UMass is Not the Only Campus Experiencing a Housing Crisis,” Massachusetts Daily Collegian, September 12, 2022.
Student Researchers: Lucia Beurer, Juan Montori, Latchman Ramlochan, and Elva Zheng (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
Faculty Evaluator: Allison Butler (University of Massachusetts Amherst)