When students leave home for the collegial atmosphere of a university dormitory, they don’t expect to end up at a nearby hotel. But that’s just what’s happening to approximately 100 Oakland University students.
At the start of the school year, there was a 16 percent increase over last year’s already overbooked occupancy. Due to on-campus housing demands, a block of 30 rooms at Homestead Studio Suites have been reserved for OU students displaced because of overcrowded residence halls. In addition, the showrooms in Hamlin, Nicholson and Vandenberg residence halls have been converted for general student use.
Emails regarding housing placement confirm hotels as a contingency plan for those students living farthest away from campus. Currently the rooms are booked for three weeks, but it is unclear how long they will be booked for.
Housing Director Jim Zentemeyer in an email wrote “University Housing continues to expand the scope and quality of developmental and academic activity in the residence halls. This combined with the growing partnerships with other offices on campus have caused a steady growth in housing demand.”
The students, who are staying in Homestead Studio Suites — located on University Drive, down the street from the university — are not paying for the hotels directly — the costs are coming from the campus housing fee they’ve already paid.
“We usually see some level of turnover in the early part of the year,” Zentmeyer said. “We’re trying to see if these people are in a position to have permanent rooms in a relatively short period of time … students are still able to eat on campus, although the hotel does have a number of amenities that are offered like a kitchen.”
Zentmeyer blames the high increase in housing on campus due to an increased interest in the campus community.
“Basically we’ve experienced more than a 16 percent increase in housing demand from this year to last year, and last year was record setting as well,” he said. “With the activity on campus, people want to live here and that’s wonderful. We’re moving toward that community-feel at OU.”
Senior resident assistants are staying overnight with the students to make sure they’re monitored, and the Bear Bus is available for transportation to the university.
In spite of the increase in students, single rooms were not an option again this year for students who wished to live alone.
Christine Aranda, a transfer student, was upset when the room she applied for through Disability Support Services didn’t work out.
“At first I was worried because I thought they were going to put me into a dorm room with four or five other people, but was given an apartment instead,” she said. “We all applied for a single room through the DSS office, and were enraged when we found out we were put into a three bedroom apartment … we had anxiety attacks about it … I know I personally had a whole week where I was freaking out and went to two therapy sessions rather than one that week. I ended up liking my suitemates, though.”
Zentmeyer said he’s drafted a plan for a new housing unit to go out to the Board of Trustees that he hopes would add 440 beds to the university for the 2013 year.
“We want to make sure that it runs parallel with everyone else’s programs,” he said. “We want to make sure there is a buy in from BOT and that everyone that ought to be a part of the project can be.”