Fall 2021. A new semester marked by the arrival of a new class year prepared to explore new courses and experience all that Tufts has to offer. This year, however, around 100 first-year students were assigned to live in the Hyatt Place in Medford, nearly two miles away from campus. Even after West Hall’s transformation into a first-year dorm, the university was unable to compensate for over-admitting the incoming Class of 2025.
Incoming students housed in the Hyatt expected a 15-minute shuttle to and from campus, which would allow them to still experience the tight-knit liberal arts college experience they anticipated from Tufts. This is not the case.
Instead, the 100 students placed in the Hyatt Place remain isolated from the rest of their class and some in-person, on-campus activities, especially those in the evening, due to irregularities in the shuttle schedules.
David Chen, a first-year student resident in the Hyatt Place, shared his experience with the inconsistency of the shuttle.
“It is often on schedule, but sometimes it is off because of traffic … Sometimes you still have to wait, especially when it’s at night, because the schedule often gets messed up,” Chen said.
According to Chen, the travel time can take anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on whether the shuttle stops in Davis Square before going to the Hyatt.
“First day of orientation, I actually waited 60 minutes in the rain for the first shuttle, because there was only one shuttle in the first week of orientation,” Chen said.
This inconsistency demonstrates the miscommunication between the Office of Residential Life and Learning and the students living in the hotel, which was especially prevalent during the first week of the semester.
The ORLL also promised to initiate social activities in the Hyatt to help the students who live there get to know each other; however, this promise was not fulfilled. Events similar to those offered on campus should be provided at the Hyatt, such as movie nights and bingo games, in order to foster a greater sense of community within the hotel.
There is also the question of safety for students walking to and from the Hyatt. Do students feel unsafe walking home at night in an area they are not familiar with? Is this environment suitable for students who may have expected to live within the vicinity of their peers?
Social initiatives to accommodate first-years living in hotels are particularly important in a university like Tufts, as the university has a tight-knit campus that is not very spread out around the city. This proximity is a vital element of the Tufts college experience.
A change in shuttle schedules occurred on Sept. 23, when the ORLL initiated a shuttle that goes directly from the campus to Hyatt after Santiago Castillo Juarez published an op-ed in the Daily about his experience living in the Hyatt and how it did not fulfill his expectations.
Even though there is a new shuttle installed that goes directly from campus to the Hyatt, there is still a need for a more frequent and reliable shuttle system. Chen shared his concerns about the future as the weather gets colder.
“It is going to snow in the winter and if there are more frequent shuttles, it means that I would be waiting for a shorter amount of time, and it would be a better experience when it is cold and snowy,” Chen said. Students at the Hyatt should not have to wait long periods of time in freezing temperatures for a shuttle to arrive.
We appreciate the changes the ORLL has made to improve the system of transportation between Tufts and the Hyatt. However, we demand more for the students who are accommodated there. Tufts promises an inclusive and collaborative environment for its students and the placement of 100 students in an isolated location violates this promise. Students should be allowed to freely engage in campus activities and have a more reliable transportation system, thus making them feel safe as they adjust to their first year at Tufts. It is the least the university can do.