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The Blue & Gray Press | September 24, 2017

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Students Angered by Hotel Housing

KAT SAUNDERS AND JESS MASULLI

Instead of being placed in residence halls, 200 rising sophomores were placed in ‘temporary hotel housing’ on housing selection night.
Almost immediately rumors started flying that students will be separated from roommates, placed in Twi-Lite Motel, bused by the FRED and provided with Chipotle meal plans.
According to Director of Residence Life Chris Porter, however, many students’ assumptions were incorrect, and it is unlikely that any students will end up in hotels at all.
“At this point, we are not even sure if there are going to be people in a hotel,” Porter said.
Porter said that between 22 and 250 students have not been placed during each of the past nine out of 10 housing selections.
Only two students have ended up living in a hotel, in fall of 2007, but they were reassigned to the President’s guesthouse immediately and moved back onto campus within a few weeks.
“This is not an unusual thing for the housing office to have to deal with,” Porter said.
Administrators suggest that part of the reason for the uproar may be that this is the first year students were explicitly told that hotels are a housing possibility.
“Hotel space has always been the back-up space in the event that residence hall rooms do not become available,” President Judy Hample said.  “This appears to be the first time that students were told the back-up space is a hotel room.”
As the University is informed of entering transfers, study abroad students and the final size for the incoming freshmen class, spaces are expected to open up in July.
Two factors contributing to the space limitations are that a floor in Marshall Hall has been designated for freshmen students since forced triples were eliminated as well as an expected increase in transfer students next year.  The freshmen class is not increasing in size, according to Hample.
“The decision to eliminate forced triples was made to ensure that our incoming freshmen students have a strong, positive, first- year experience, which is not typically the case when students are forced into rooms with three beds designed to accommodate two persons,” Hample said.
Freshman Mack Cowan does not think that eliminating forced triples was a good idea since adequate housing has not yet been built.
“We are in a state of purgatory since we are waiting for Eagle Village,” Cowan said.
If students are placed in hotels next year, they can expect to have a similar living situation to what they currently have on campus.
“They would be with other students in a community where there would be RAs, security and programming,” Porter said.  “It would be off-campus dorm housing.”
The hotels will be no further than five miles from campus.  The hotel would have to dedicate an entire floor to students, according to Porter.
“There is a lot of planning that goes into this,” Porter said.
Students for a Democratic Society staged a ‘sleep-in’ protest in front of Trinkle Hall on Tuesday to address student concerns with housing.
Students at the protest were upset that housing contracts did not state more clearly that hotel housing was a possibility.
“I am mainly upset because I was blindsided,” freshman Colleen Brooke said.  “I am certain Residence Life knew before people signed housing contracts, but they did not let me know.”
Brooke was also felt that students were not given enough information about transportation and roommates.
“There is a guarantee to live with my roommate [at the hotel], but if I move back on campus, then I will be split with my roommate,” Brooke said.
Porter said that this is not the case.
“Everyone is on the preferred housing list with their preferred roommate,” Porter said.
The SDS protest, which had about 20 students ‘sleeping’ on the floor, was a way for students to voice opposition to hotel housing and what they say is a the broader issue of administrative visibility.
“I expect the protest to catch the attention of the administration and speed up the process of getting the policy rethought,” Cowan said.
According to Chris Porter, not all students are upset by the thought of hotel housing.
“There are some people who have asked to be moved to the bottom of the list so they can be moved to the hotel,” Porter said.
James Waalkes, an RA assigned to the hotels and Apartments next year, does not care where he lives.
“Residence Life is not out to get people” Waalkes said.  “In fact, that would not be lucrative.”
Students with specific concerns about living off-campus, such as athletes or those with medical issues, can be placed on a priority housing list.
Freshman Meg Dumlao has been placed on this list.
“Because my schedule next year will be complicated [with] music, orchestra and rugby and I won’t have a car on-campus, I e-mailed Chris Porter,” Dumlao said.
Students with questions or concerns can contact Porter.
“My door is open,” Porter said. “If someone has a question or just can’t visualize how this is going to work, I want them to come talk to me.”
Porter said it is better to contact Residence Life rather than worry over rumors.
“Don’t believe everything you read on Facebook and don’t believe everything you hear,” Porter said.

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