Hotel living has its ups and downs, say

by Douglas Rojas

Early this summer, freshman Elisa Keck just barely made the deadline to apply for living in one of the residence halls on campus.
Knowing she was turning in her application late, she wasn’t surprised to be placed in the Days Inn hotel. She was familiar with these kinds of measures because she took a class at the University last year.
“I kind of laughed,” said Keck, who is an honor student in the Institute of Technology. “I was actually amused. I thought it would be kind of cool to live in a hotel.”
Keck is one of the more than 200 students who started living in the Days Inn at 2407 University Ave. S.E. at the beginning of fall quarter. Because of this year’s increase in freshman enrollment, the University has been struggling to find on-campus housing for incoming students. The hotel made four out of its six floors available to students.
University officials were expecting to place about 500 students in hotel rooms and study lounges at the beginning of the quarter until permanent space opened up. So far, about 60 students who lived in the Days Inn have been placed in the residence halls or in housing around campus.
For Dave Nistler, Days Inn hall director, placing students in permanent campus housing is a major priority.
“We would like to get them into traditional rooms; get them out as soon as possible,” Nistler said.
A couple of factors have helped to open up spaces on campus and relocating students. Students who didn’t show up to claim their rooms by the first day of class lost their contracts, and that helped to place some of the Days Inn residents in residence halls. Also, fraternity and sorority recruitment of new students opened up some spaces at the residence halls, which were filled up with students placed in temporary housing.
However, living in a hotel can be just the same as living in a residence hall.
“We try to give them the same experiences and opportunities,” said Jodi Roehsner, a College of Liberal Arts junior and fourth-floor resident assistant. The hotel is heavily decorated with University posters and information, and every door has the student’s name on it. One can even smell microwave popcorn in the hotel’s hallways.
“Some like living here and don’t even want to move out of the hotel. Some are anxious to get in the dorms, but some like to stay,” Roehsner said.
Many students agreed that living in a hotel has some advantages such as having free access to cable, private bathrooms shared by only two students and a quieter atmosphere than in regular residence halls. Students also get room cleaning service once a week — clean sheets and towels, vacuuming and other maintenance — something that is not available at regular residence halls. Plus, a hotel shuttle bus is available at different hours during the day to take students to their classes.
“I don’t want to move out, but I don’t think I have a choice,” said General College freshman Reid Mosey.
However, busy phone lines, having to pay for laundry, and no common dining room comprise some disadvantages. Students have the choice of doing laundry for free at any residence hall, Keck said, but it’s inconvenient to walk around campus with a bag of dirty laundry on your back.
And although students have the chance to get to know each other better in the hotel, Mosey said he felt it is not as social as the dorms.
“I just think (living in the halls) is the best way to meet people,” he said.
Living in the hotel also has its own interesting aspects. Students spotted one hotel guest walking naked in the halls two weeks ago, Mosey said. Residents in room 411 received a phone call from a drunk man asking for information.
Still, the hotel goes out of its way to make the students feel at home, said Colleen Wright, general manager of the Days Inn. And so far, there has been good interaction between the students and the hotel guests.
“It’s fun having them here. It’s a good group of kids,” Wright said.