Tufts offers Hyatt to sophomores as housing, then cancels program due to lack of interest

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A near record number of freshmen will be living in forced triples this year after a larger-than-expected entering class forced the administration to scramble to find enough housing and an initiative aimed at placing students in a local hotel fell through.

To allow more space on campus for incoming students, the Office of Residential Life and Learning sent an e-mail on July 6 to rising sophomores offering them the chance to live in the newly renovated Hyatt Place (formerly the AmeriSuites)in Medford Square.

Tufts planned to house around 50 students there, but since only eight students expressed interest in the program, the administration decided to scrap it.

“The response rate was very low and many students and parents were not interested in being away from the campus community,” ORLL Director Yolanda King said in an e-mail.

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In order to entice students to live at the Hyatt, the university had offered transportation to and from campus, free laundry service, a daily continental breakfast and a variety of other amenities.

Given this and the fact that the rooms have recently been redone, Dean of Student Affairs Bruce Reitman said he expected a more enthusiastic response from students.

“I thought it would be very attractive to students because the Hyatt Place is completely renovated,” he said.

But with the program’s cancellation, campus administrators turned to forced triples, doubles with three people living in them, to accommodate the first-years. According to Reitman, 148 first year students will be residing in forced triples this year, down from the record of 189 set two years ago.

Administrators had hoped not to have to rely heavily on forced triples, and are still trying to reduce the number of students living in them as they identify doubles that for one reason or another only have one occupant.

This process has already had some success. “What ResLife did with those rooms, if it was a half empty double, was to be aggressive in consolidating the residual roommates,” Reitman said. “What we did was create a lot more rooms that way.”

The rush to create rooms for incoming freshmen came right as ResLife overcame its largest hurdle of last year: finding housing for the 125 rising sophomores who were on the waitlist as April drew to a close.

The list was cleared in May, and Reitman said that by the time summer began, he was already concerned about housing the incoming freshmen.

“At the beginning of the summer the numbers seemed too high to accommodate everyone on campus,” Reitman said. “We made [the Hyatt] plans thinking we were going to need to do something to avoid crowding situations”

This does not mark the first time in Tufts history that a hotel housing program was offered. According to Reitman, over 20 years ago Tufts housed approximately 200 students on the first two floors of the Sheraton Commander in Harvard square for two years.

Yet in 2007, Tufts students are opting to maintain a cohesive campus community rather than live in Medford Square. “I wouldn’t want to live at the Hyatt because I would feel removed from campus and not part of the Tufts community,” sophomore Dena Feiger said.

Sophomore Jessica Daniel said that the perks were “enticing… but it didn’t balance out the fact that it was so far away from campus.”

Daniel also felt that the last-minute nature of the program contributed to its failure. She feels it may have been more successful had the program been offered during the regular housing lottery rather than over the summer “because people could have worked out their living arrangements ahead of time instead of having it thrust upon them and having to change their housing plans at the last minute.”

-Jamie Bologna contributed reporting to this article

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