UMass sees an increase in economy triples this semester

Over 1,000 students have been placed in triples designed for only two people.

UMass Amherst has seen an uptick in economy triples this fall semester.

While some students are more likely to adapt to an environment like an economy triple, others have a harder time adjusting.

Junior Jillian Sawan, who lives in Southwest, said, “It wasn’t like I needed to adjust because I had my own room or anything. I’ve always had to share so I don’t really care that much.”

Economy triples are dorms that house three people but were originally designed for two. While typical double dorm rooms include two beds and two desks, economy triples stack an extra bed and squeeze an extra desk into the space. Due to this layout, students living in economy triples received a decreased housing cost of $2,882 compared to the typical dorm pricing of $3,920.

COVID-19 has changed admissions projections and the number of students who chose to live on campus. More students have wanted to come to UMass than expected and the upperclassmen who lost their college experience due to COVID-19 are now more likely to stay on campus so they can have that experience.

This year there are 363 economy triples throughout campus. This comes with UMass enrolling its second biggest class in history. The last time there were economy triples was in 2019.

First-year students take top priority in on-campus housing. To help upperclassmen stay on campus this semester, UMass placed some transfer students in the Econo Lodge and increased the number of economy triples.

“We made the decision to do economy triples because we knew there would be more returning students wanting to return to campus,” said Jean MacKimmie, the Director of Residence Education.

Some students like Hallan Maxwell, a junior business major, had to make a difficult housing decision due to their low priority numbers. Maxwell had to face living in one of the economy triples or living in an area he didn’t like.

“So it was just either this [economy triple] in Southwest or Sylvan. So I can’t really be bothered with Sylvan. So I just chose here like I’ll stick it out,” said Maxwell.

He made this choice because it was close enough to the Honors College, where he lived last year and where his friends live, and because it is closer to the Recreation Center. Sylvan was just too far away for him.

Transitioning into an economy triple can be newer territory for some students, however. 

Sophomore Rachel Hobson said that it can be hard to find privacy in her economy triple in Southwest.

“Sometimes getting alone time in this room is almost impossible. It’s like maybe once every two weeks I’m alone in the room,” she said.

Some students are left to make the decision to live in the economy triple for financial reasons regardless of how they may react to having to live there. 

“There are both returning students and new students who requested economy triples with the people that they wanted to live with,” said MacKimmie. “It does cost less. So for some students, that’s important around the affordability of college.”

UMass doesn’t want to continue with the use of economy triples, Mackimmie said. They hope that the apartments along Massachusetts Avenue which will provide 632 beds for undergraduates, will help with the housing issue. The apartments are expected to be ready by fall 2023.

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