Hundreds start U careers in hotel, lounges

by Mike Zacharias

The first four floors of the Days Inn on University Avenue are always a little different this time of year. Dry-erase board-adorned doors are propped open, spilling out music as residents mingle in the hallways.

The hotel has been a seasonal, makeshift student community for three of the past four years because increasing numbers of freshmen are taking advantage of the University’s housing guarantee.

The collegiate atmosphere was imported along with close to 150 University freshmen who will stay there until permanent University housing space is freed.

An additional 250 students are living in residence hall study lounges. Four hundred more could not be fit into expanded housing and are on a waiting list for residence hall spots.

“In total there are about 440 students in expanded housing this year, which is probably about 100 more than last year,” said Mannix Clark, assistant director of housing and residential life.

Clark attributed the rise in the number of students in expanded housing to a jump in freshman applicants – over 4,000 this year – for University housing.

“Traditionally we move the Days Inn people first,” Clark said. “Our goal is to be out of the Days Inn by the end of October, and we should be able to meet that goal.”

Students live in 75 rooms, with four rooms for a hall director and three community advisers. Under standard Days Inn rates, those rooms together would cost close to $7,900 daily.

The University cut a deal with the hotel for $50 per room each day, almost $4,000 per day in total. The students are paying the standard daily University double room rate of about $14.

“It’s been a very good situation for us,” said Eric Perkins, the hotel’s general manager. “Doing the research from years past, the students have been wonderful. I’ve never heard a single complaint from an employee or guest.”

Ben Foster, a freshman living at the Days Inn, said he would have preferred moving directly into a dorm to avoid another move but doesn’t mind living at the hotel.

“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Foster said. “We get our own bathroom, which is a plus.”

“It seems to be developing really well,” said Leah Gordon, acting hall director for the Days Inn. “Because (the students) know it’s temporary, they’re almost nicer to each other. They’ve been very respectful of the fact that they are in a hotel.”

Students will be moved out of the hotel as residence hall rooms are made available. Clark said there are typically 80 to 100 students who choose not to attend the University and fail to cancel their housing arrangements. Other spaces open up when students move or drop out.

Because the expanded housing slots are designed to be temporary, students on the waiting list will not be moved into hotel rooms or study lounges after those spaces are vacated.


Mike Zacharias welcomes comments at [email protected]