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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, October 2, 2023

Op-ed: So close yet so far

I was partying in Paris the moment I found out that Tufts had overenrolled the Class of 2025. Speakers were blasting reggaeton as I heard the distinct ringtone I had set for Tufts emails. I took my phone out of my pocket and read the headline. "Tufts Class of 2025 Housing Assignments." I skimmed the email looking for my roommate assignment and my residence hall but quickly found out it wasn’t in the email. The email simply stated that 100 or so students had been randomly selected to live in the Hyatt Place Medford, about a 35-minute walk from Tufts’ Campus Center. I celebrated at the time, as the email said that those unlucky 100 students had already been notified early in the morning and I had not been one of them. Nonetheless, the next day, peers I had met online were already asking me what hall I was in. I never received the housing email. Endless calls and unanswered emails to Residential Life left me desperate for an answer. 

The tuition payment deadline came along quickly and I was forced to pay the full cost of the first semester without a room assignment. Gambling upwards of $40,000 is a lot when you have no idea if you are going to have a place to live. I waited and I found out, 24 days after the original email was sent, that I was going to be housed at the Hyatt. I went through the seven stages of grief, eventually culminating in acceptance. I adopted an “it is what it is” mindset and came to terms with it. 

The move-in day came and the rooms were amazing. Private bathrooms with a bathtub, full-sized beds and plasma TVs seemed like they would be enough for the minor inconvenience of living a 5-minute shuttle away from campus. The reality has been far from it. I feel cheated out of my college experience. Getting to campus and back to the Hyatt has often been a titanic ordeal, having to budget in an excess of 40 minutes just for the one-way trip. Shuttle service has been inconsistent at best and disastrous at worst. In order to get to class on time, after waiting 45 minutes for the shuttle, I have had to take multiple Lyfts and Ubers, priced at a ridiculous surge rate, on my own tab. I have not been able to attend social commitments for complications with the shuttle. 

I am fortunate to be a man in this misogynist world. A female peer at the Hyatt tells stories of being catcalled in broad daylight on the 35-minute walk back to the Hyatt. Making students choose between their safety and getting to campus on time should not be an option, but with such poor shuttle scheduling and management, it leaves us no choice. 

Although the primary promise that has been broken is the 10- to 15-minute shuttle frequency directly to campus, many others have also failed to be true."Luxury bedding" was promised yet the hotel sheets we slept with the first night were removed the very next day and replaced with fecal colored bedding resembling sandpaper. Desk chairs for double rooms are unacceptable plastic dining hall chairs that are unsuitable for long periods of studying. Free laundry service has, to this day, not been implemented, though we’ve been told it will start soon. We have still yet to find out whether the administration's promise for preferential lottery treatment will hold true. After 10 nights sleeping in the Hyatt I have come to the conclusion that with the current issues, the disadvantages of living in the Hyatt much outweigh its benefits.

My primary plea to ORLL and Tufts Transportation is to offer a direct, nonstop, frequent shuttle exclusively for Tufts Hyatt residents to get to campus and back. Walking 35 minutes, with a tight class schedule, homework and a social life is simply not a possibility for most of us. 

One has to be blind to reality to believe that the experience of living in an on-campus residence hall is the same as living in the Hyatt, especially under the current conditions. I firmly believe that with certain modifications, Tufts can get somewhat close to or actually succeed in finding an approach that embodies a normal college experience. The 100 students living in the Hyatt clearly have major disadvantages that other first-years on campus do not have. ORLL should make it a priority to bridge this gap in due time. Given that we pay tuition and board surpassing $80,000 a year, we should at least get a response to our emails. The core of my anger comes not necessarily from the living situation, but from an utter lack of communication and transparency. 

Having inconveniences during the first week of classes is normal, but if the current situation continues it will directly impact our first year of college experience in ways that should not be acceptable. I, along with dozens of other Hyatt residents, beg for rapid solutions and forums where we can be heard and where issues can be addressed.