Students housed in hotel, lounges due to shortage

by Mark Baumgarten

When Amber Clausen heard she would be spending the first few months of her college life living in a hotel, she was disappointed. But when she heard about the free parking and cleaning services, she figured living in a Days Inn might not be that bad.
Like more than 300 other students, Clausen, a College of Liberal Arts freshman, will be staying in expanded housing provided by the University until a spot opens for her in a traditional dorm.
Most of the students in expanded housing will be living in modified lounges and study rooms in the residential halls. But more than 90 students will reside at the Days Inn on University Avenue Southeast.
And while living in a non-traditional residential arrangement might seem strange at first for students at the hotel, Days Inn General Manager Colleen Wright said students quickly become accustomed to the situation.
“People don’t want to leave,” she said. “There is some apprehension at the beginning of the year, but that quickly fades and the students are very happy.”
Some of the creature comforts that make the Days Inn unique are full-sized beds, a shuttle to the University (for rainy days, Wright said), cleaning service, cable TV and access to a Nintendo video game system in each room.
But students have a limited time to take advantage of Days Inn perks before they are reassigned to a residence hall.
“They told me I would probably be out by Thanksgiving break,” Clausen said. “I think I’ll probably be able to survive until then.”
University students are placed in expanded housing every year in anticipation of traditional spots opening up in the residential halls because of no-shows and students who decide to leave the University.
“We try not to put any more people in expanded housing than we can get out by the beginning of the spring semester,” said Mannix Clark, assistant director of Housing and Residential Life.
The number of students placed in expanded housing has decreased by 90 students since last year, even though the number of students in on-campus housing has increased from 5,884 in fall 1999 to 5,966 this year.
This, Clark said, is due to an increase in available housing, including the University Village complex on University Avenue and new rooms in the residence halls.
“We evaluated the system and found that we could increase the capacity of some of the rooms,” he said. “We turned some large one-bed rooms into two-bed rooms and some two-bed rooms into three.”
The University’s on-campus housing capacity is set to increase again with plans for additions to both Frontier and Middlebrook halls.
But no matter how much more housing is added, Clark said, “We will always have some expanded housing.”

Mark Baumgarten welcomes comments at [email protected]