Hotel rooms on reserve for overbooked housing students

A year after Oakland University’s dormitories were overbooked by 100 students, OU is again staring at the problem of an overpopulation of residents.

According to Housing Director James Zentmeyer, OU has booked 75 rooms at the Homestead Studio Suites on University Drive in Auburn Hills. If the current number of students requesting housing holds, this will be just enough to keep up with demand and the extra students will be placed in the hotel.

New students begin moving in on Sept. 1.

According to Zentmeyer, the students at Homestead would be approximately two thirds male and one third female.

Although residents in the hotel will continue to pay rates as if they were on campus, Zentmeyer said the additional cost to the housing department will be minimal.

“It is a very minimal amount because Homestead does give us a very good rate with regard to housing, because where a hotel has people in housing, out of housing, back and forth, our residents are consistent,” Zentmeyer said. “It is more profitable for them to have consistent residents as opposed to just a couple people a week.”

The housing department is funded separately from the university, so no tuition dollars would be used to fund the hotel stays.

Robbie Williford, current OU student congress vice president and former president of the Residence Halls Association, said the university is doing everything it can to keep up with demand.

“In some of the buildings, they were double rooms and they made them triple. They tripled the (George T. Mathews) Apartments,” he said. “In Hamlin, they had a floor where there were just people from different countries that would come study here. They opened that up to all students.”

Zentmeyer expects the housing situation to be very fluid leading up to student move-in and throughout the semester.

“Even into the first day of classes, we still receive information from students who at the very last minute change their mind with regard to either attending classes or living on campus,” he said. “We then re-utilize the space for a student that might be on paper in temporary housing today but come the weekend may find themselves in permanent on-campus housing due to a cancellation that may have occurred between now and when we open.”

Zentmeyer said the transition between the hotel to permanent on-campus residents depends on the students involved, but can often take place in as little as a day or two after a room becomes available.

Residents at the hotel will be under the supervision of two resident assistants available to aid the students.

OU has 2100 beds available on campus after accounting for nonrevenue generating resident assistant beds.

A new proposal to expand the housing facilities is expected to come before the Board of Trustees in October. The proposal would add 450 beds.

Williford said a long-term expansion plan has become necessary.

“I could even see having one new housing building becoming overpopulated within the next 10 years if they do it very soon,” he said. “The students in housing do want more of a housing campus. They want campus to be more housing oriented as opposed to commuter.”