Springfield Daily News: September 12, 1977

Students Win Fight to Stay in UMís Campus Center Hotel



AMHERST ó Throughout its 107-year history, the University of Massachusetts has been christened with a multitude of nicknames. Most recently, students have been calling it "Sardine City" in light of a computer mistake that had left some 400 freshmen and transfer students without permanent dormitory housing during the first two weeks of the semester.

The mistake was enrolling more students that the campus could house.

At the height of the overcrowding, there were 190 persons housed in the Campus Center Hotel, 150 in various fraternities and sororities, and about 65 living in dormitory lounges or private residences.

At this time, there are 49 students living in the Campus Center Hotel and chances are they won't be moving out. An agreement was drafted Sunday night between the assistant Vice Chancellor for student affairs, Frederick R. Preston, William S. Field, dean of students, and James H. Field of the Legal Services office, which acted as attorneyfor the displaced students, that in effect establishes the fifth floor of the hotel, where the students are now living, as an official dormitory residence.

The accord came shortly after the release of a letter signed by 17 of the hotel guests that stated, "We do not want to live in dormitory lounges and we will not be forced into these lounges and will not be forced or threatened with expulsion if we don't."

The statement continued to say that the students were prepared not to surrender their hotel rooms, explaining "we feel that we would be most uncomfortable moving into a residence hall where relationships are already established, and furthermore, that we would be in turn be resented by the house residents if we moved into their lounge."

NO ROOM HERE - Students at Pierpont dormitory in the Southwest residential area of UMass protest the overcrowded housing conditions as a result of a computer error. The university accepted more students that it could house, leaving some 400 students wiithout dormitory room. Most have been placed but there are still some 49 living in the Campus Center Hotel at the university. (Daily News photo by Stan Sherer)

Makeshift student bedrooms are now being constructed throughout dormitory lounges in the Southwest residential area to accommodate those who have already been moved out of the Campus Center Hotel. Infuriated residents of the Pierpont dormitory, located in that area, had assembled in their dorm lounges beginning Thursday, when they learned of a decision from Robert Campbell, director of Residential Resource Management, to move 75 of the displaced students out of the hotel and into the substitute lounge-bedrooms.

John Sullivan, a spokesman for the Pierpont dormitory, told reporters the dorm elevator had been purposely broken by students attempting to prevent maintenance personnel from moving furniture into the lounges.

At that time, rumors ran rampant throughout campus that the Students for a Democratic Society, SDS, were involved in the demonstrations when a statement, bearing the endorsement of SDS, was circulated among students and campus administrators.

The mimeographed letter called the situation an "infringement on our personal freedom. Students living in Southwest," it continued to say, "pay exorbitant rates for minimal living space. Now we must be crowded together like cattle, due to the blunderings of the Administration. But who pays for this blunder? You guessed it! The students do. It is your Administration that is doing this to you. They are making you pay for their mistakes."

Pierpont residents later admitted that it was a hoax and organizers of the protest had used the name of the SDS to draw more attention to their situation.

Dean of Students William F. Field said at that time, the protesting students "behaved like spoiled children. In a few weeks they'll be embarrassed" about their behavior.

The co-president of the Student Government Association John A. Kite reported shortly before the agreement was reached that students throughout the rest of the campus were sympathetic with their houseless colleagues and helping to alleviate the situation.

The next move is up to the students and as things appear right now, they probably won't be making it.

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