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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Friday, June 14, 2024

New temporary dormitories on Professors Row to house 150 first-years this fall 

The Mods are pictured on the Vouté Tennis Courts, the site of the planned temporary housing.

Temporary housing at the current site of The Mods will be used to house 150 first-year students in fall 2022, Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarríbar informed the Tufts community in an April 8 email. Construction of three separate buildings, which will house 50 students and three resident assistants each, will begin once the university’s plan is approved by the City of Somerville.

The new housing, which does not yet have a name, will be located at 91, 93 and 95 Professors Row. The university does not plan to continue its use of the Hyatt Place in Medford to house incoming first-years and will instead utilize the new temporary dormitories. 

“Because this year’s incoming class was larger than expected, we have taken steps to increase our residential capacity on campus to accommodate our rising sophomores and the incoming class next fall,” the email read.

Each building will include a kitchen,  common area,  study space, bathrooms and a laundry room, the email said. The rooms will be primarily doubles, with a small number of singles in each building. The new temporary units will be part of Tufts’ first-year housing offerings for at least the next five years, while The Mods that currently occupy the Vouté Tennis Courts will be moved to the Fletcher parking lot.

Tufts University Transportation and Parking announced that the Fletcher parking lot would close for construction in an email to the Tufts community on April 1, citing “a need for additional modular housing on campus.”

Executive Director of Media Relations Patrick Collins said that while the new dormitories may resemble The Mods from the outside, the insides will be an upgrade from the current modular housing units. 

“While their exterior shapes might seem similar to the COVID units, the new units will be significantly different,” Collins wrote in an email to the Daily. “While COVID units were intended to house students temporarily and keep them isolated, the new units will offer comfortable living spaces and higher quality finishes and encourage social connections and community building.” 

In her April 8 email, Lizarríbar said that Tufts is seeking to expand and optimize its housing offerings outside of its construction of the new temporary housing. She said the university has “added beds through optimization programs,” is getting ready to convert more university-owned homes into upperclassmen apartments and is planning a new residence hall for 370 upperclassmen that is slated to open in 2026.

Residential assistants assigned to the new dorm were initially confused when they saw the name “Packard” as a housing assignment. According to Collins, Packard will not be the official name of the new housing.

“I found out about my 2022-2023 housing assignment back in March,” Zanna A., an RA assigned to the new temporary dorms, wrote in a message to the Daily. “It was listed as Packard which was a real head-scratcher because I was then unfamiliar with any existing dorm of this name — I was soon informed that the placement was the temporary building in the works.”

Avi Belbase, another RA assigned to the new dorms, also had many questions when he first heard about his dorm assignment.

“The details about the housing have still been a little confusing so students have simply been referring to it as ‘the new mods,’” he wrote in a message to the Daily

Zanna, a sophomore, explained that she expects her responsibilities as an RA to remain the same. 

“As it stands, my duties will remain the same — probably with a heavier focus on community building to remedy the awkwardness of living in the memeified housing unit,” Zanna wrote. 

Avi, a sophomore, added that he feels being housed on campus is the most important thing for incoming freshmen.“I’d much rather be on campus in the mods than off campus (sorry Hyatt kids)!” Belbase wrote.

Zanna said she is unsure what exactly the new temporary housing will look like, but that despite its location, she expects it to be nicer than the current modular housing.

“Although I do not have much insight on what the dorm will look like, I imagine that it will be quite the upgrade from the mods,” she wrote. 

Zanna said she was excited when she received the dorm placement, mainly because of its prime location.

“I know it’s a hot take, but being the first cohort of Jumbos to be placed into this transient trailer town is kind of cool,” she wrote. “I understand that the optics of the situation are laughable, but if there’s anything I know about this incoming class, it’s that they are resilient to the challenges of change. Despite the assumed aesthetic alienation, I am sure that my fellow RA’s and I will do more than enough to make Packard feel like the place to be.” 

Like Zanna, Avi was not concerned about his dorm assignment, and he emphasized that the new dorm is in a great spot for first-years to be located. 

“I personally don’t spend much time in my dorm anyways so I’m not really concerned about myself,” he wrote. “I’m more curious as to whether it will have a significant effect on the morale of my residents.”