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UMass Amherst to house 120 transfer students in Hadley motel this fall

The University of Massachusetts Amherst said demand for on-campus housing has surged among many students following the easing of pandemic restrictions.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

University of Massachusetts Amherst will house 120 undergraduate transfer students in double-occupancy motel rooms more than 3 miles from the school, following a surge in demand for on-campus housing for the upcoming fall semester.

Buses will transport students from the Econo Lodge, in Hadley, to the university — a trip of about 15 minutes, said Ed Blaguszewski, a university spokesperson.

He said the pandemic created a desire among students to experience campus life, and the demand outgrew the number of dormitory beds. This is the first time since 2005 that the university has housed students off campus.

“A cohort of students, over the last couple of years because of the pandemic, really haven’t had a full campus experience,” he said. “We’re seeing a higher number than usual of students who are upper class … wanting to live on campus. They want to have that full of immersive residential experience.”

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In 2022, the pandemic continues to create new housing demands at UMass Amherst. Yet the university is trying to adapt. Blaguszewski said the university currently has 13,500 beds on campus, and they intend to install around 700 more by next fall.

Despite the distance between the Econo Lodge and the UMass Amherst campus, Blaguszewski said, the motel will function the same as any on-campus residence hall. This means students there will have access to residence hall staff and other resources or personnel needed to navigate university life.

“[Econo Lodge] really is a residence hall,” he said. “It’s not isolated from the university’s support systems.”

Blaguszewski said UMass Amherst doesn’t expect to house students in the motel beyond the fall semester because space will free up on campus as students graduate or move away for internships.

Students from other Massachusetts universities have lived in motels to address unique housing needs during the pandemic.

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Since 2020, Northeastern University began placing students in The Midtown Hotel, the Sheraton Boston Hotel, and the Copley Place Westin hotel. While Emerson College previously housed students in the W Hotel, and Suffolk University used The Boxer hotel, among other local lodgings, to foster social distancing at the height of the pandemic.


Katie Mogg can be reached at katie.mogg@globe.com. Follow her on twitter @j0urnalistkatie