Students at Days Inn prepare to move

by Matthew Gruchow

Nearly halfway through the first semester, University housing officials said they plan to have the last 30 students left at the Days Inn moved to residence halls by the month’s end.

The University started the semester with 104 students in overflow housing at the hotel, said Mannix Clark, associate department director of Central Housing. The last time the University needed to use hotel space was in 2001.

The Days Inn students’ next move will be permanent, Clark said.

“We never move a student from an expanded space to an expanded space,” he said.

The hotel experience has been fine, first-year student Whitney Olson said, but she’s eager to move so she can immerse herself in the campus experience.

“It’s not horrible or anything,” she said. “It’s not the dorm life. You don’t get to meet many people.”

Olson grew up in Apple Valley, Minn., and said she had a network of friends before she came to the University. It’s a social advantage that out-of-state students don’t have, she said.

Keeping a positive attitude helps her cope with the hassles of living in the 300-square-foot room she shares with one roommate at the hotel, she said. The Days Inn staff has been helpful during her stay, she said.

“Generally, it’s been kind of a hassle, but I just try to stay positive about it,” Olson said. “I think people know it’s going to be a struggle when they find out they’re living in a motel.”

Fellow first-year student Alison Lensing said the hotel has been accommodating, but it’s still not her preferred living situation.

Internet service has been sporadic, she said, and traveling the five blocks to eat or do laundry has been inconvenient.

“It’s kind of annoying to have to put up with this,” Lensing said. “I’m paying to be on campus and technically I’m off campus.”

Her eventual move will be bittersweet, she said, after developing a great relationship with her current roommate. By moving, she’ll have to try her luck with someone new.

Despite feeling somewhat isolated from campus, Lensing said she is enjoying her time at college.

She also said the University isn’t to blame for having to put students in the hotel.

“It’s my own fault, because I applied for housing late,” she said. “I learned a lesson in the end.”

Days Inn General Manager Debi Grant-Smith said there have been no problems with the students during their stay.

“We have not had the first problem,” she said. “They’re outstanding. It’s an experience we’d gladly have again.”

When the University gets enrollment projections for next year, it will help them decide whether they should anticipate using overflow housing again, he said.

“For us, we’d rather not be at the Days Inn,” Clark said. “We are not anticipating being there (again), but it’s too early for me to say we’re not going to be there.”