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UMass student lists dorm room with a view on Airbnb; university officials say “Not so fast” 



For the Gazette
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

AMHERST — For a short time, $85 might have gotten you a night in a dorm room in the Southwest Residential Area of the University of Massachusetts with the “best view” in town, according to the student attempting to rent it on Airbnb.

It might have been a good deal. That is, if you like to look out over dormitory towers and share a bathroom with college students. The host touted the room’s other amenities on the online room and home rental service, including friendly neighbors.

The student listed it as a “Luxury Room in Southwest” when she advertised her single bed for rent on the website.

University officials have contacted her since and the listing has been removed. Renting out a dorm room violates the residence hall contract, which all students sign to live on campus, said UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski.

“Assigned space is not transferable by the student,” states section five of the residence contract.

The university declined to comment further, other than to note that the student was contacted and the listing deleted. She never actually rented it out. 

(The woman used only her first name in the Airbnb post and asked the Gazette with remove it from this article because she said she was being harassed and feared for her safety.) 

“I used my room as a way to make money and meet other people,” she said in an email interview via the Airbnb website.

Her listing boasted proximity to the dining halls, access to the laundry room and utilities such as a microwave, refrigerator and television.

However, she said in the listing that partying would be off-limits, or else “you will be written up and asked to leave.”

Many other college campuses across the country have faced similar issues with students renting out their dorm rooms.

In January 2016, Jack Worth, an Emerson College student, rented his dorm room three times on Airbnb before he was caught, according to the Boston Globe.

After the Emerson College incident, Katie Theiler, a spokeswoman for Housing and Dining Services at the University of Colorado, told Daily Camera last year that the school was keeping an eye on online rental sites.

Last year, the Huffington Post found Airbnb listings for dorm rooms at several colleges, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Temple University and the University of Chicago. To Blaguszewski’s knowledge, this is the first time a student at UMass Amherst has listed a dorm room for rent.

Nicole DeFeudis can be reached at nmdefeudis@umass.edu.