72°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Dorm Plans Put On Hold

On March 5, 2003 Mitt Romney put a hold on the university’s ability to move forward with its plans to attain the financing to begin construction of campus housing. Romney and his representatives claim that the construction of the dorms and its effects require further inquiries.

For months now, there have been heated debates on the potential construction of dorms on the UMass Boston campus. The dorms were to be built by 2005 at the latest and would have had the capacity to house 2,000 students, approximately 15% of the campus’ 13,000 students. Many were concerned that the construction of dorms would cause a rift between commuting students and resident students.

Chancellor Jo Ann Gora assured the community that not only would the presence of dormitories not cause a rift, it would create a more unified campus because students would be more likely to participate in campus events. In fact, UMass Boston is one of only a handful of urban campuses that do not offer some form of housing for students; and the campuses that do offer housing have not suffered from a disgruntled student populace.

As the prospect loomed before the UMass Boston community, many students became accustomed, if not open, to the idea. After being given the facts about what the dorms would mean to the campus, one student stated, “I think housing could be very beneficial. I know that many students commute a very long distance, and this could make it easier for them.”

The housing was in fact intended to be of the most benefit to students, particularly incoming freshmen, who commuted a great distance. Most freshmen that leave UMass Boston to attend another college cite lack of housing as the chief reason they transfer.

The dorms were to be financed through bonds, which representatives of UMass managed to obtain at the lowest interest rate in the history of the Commonwealth. The debt from construction would not have affected commuting students, as it was to be paid through the revenue created by renting the dormitories.

According to Chancellor Gora, the freezing of the university’s ability to obtain the bonds is an ill-concealed attempt at controlling the university’s future. Since the state would neither be contributing money to the project nor be responsible for repaying any loans, the aim of the governor seems to be preventing change on the campus before he attempts to put into effect his education reform plan.

The current freeze on the blocking ability to move forward with its plans could lead to the backers for the bonds removing their offer. This could result in the university having to begin the process of finding a new deal on bonds, a deal that would likely have a higher interest rate and lead to an increase in the university’s debt.

The construction of dorms through the financing of bonds would enhance the university’s ability to retain freshman students, as well as create revenue through rent, both of which would improve the campus’ financial position. While the overall effects of the construction of dorms may still be in question, the university would stand to gain much-needed income during this time of fiscal crisis if the governor allowed the university to go forward with its plans.