For years, some dorm areas at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have been reserved for students of color — African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Native Americans — who want to live with others of similar race or ethnicity. That’s about to change, under an effort that links students by areas of academic interest. That same effort is part of the new “epoch” program at UMass, which is supposed to help first-year students make the transition from high school to college. Under the “epoch” program, students in some majors are grouped together for their first year of dorm life. Michael Gargano is the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Campus Life. He says officials want dorm floors now reserved for students of certain racial and ethnic groups to have that same emphasis on academics.