Local hotels are options

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Living in Eickhoff Hall is commonly compared to staying in a hotel. With swipe access cards and personal bathrooms, this residence hall has been considered among the top choices for students at the College.

Now, there’s a shift in the housing system, as residing in hotels is actually an option for upperclassmen.

Complete with access to the facilities’ fitness centers, pools and weekly maid service, 140 beds will become available for rising juniors and seniors, according to recently released information on the Residential Education and Housing website.

While the College has yet to sign contracts or confirm which hotels will be used, two likely locations are the Courtyard Marriott and the Element by Westin, both in Ewing and approximately three miles away, according to Sean Stallings, executive director of Residential Education and Housing.

“These are two of the top finalists, pending the final award of the contract,” Stallings said.

Further information provided on the College’s housing website states that students who would like to live in hotels must sign up separately from the on campus housing lottery. Rooms will be assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Those selecting the hotel option will enter a contract, which will be managed by Residential Education and Housing. For this reason, students cannot choose hotels and then decide to switch on-campus, Stallings explained; but if a studentdoes not receive a time slot for the on campus lottery, the hotels may be an available option.

The hotel rooms will be doubles, and the amenities are similar, but slightly vary between the hotels.

Rooms at the Courtyard Marriott feature two queen-sized beds and a 37” plasma television, according to a description on the housing site. Some of The Element by Westin rooms have queen beds, while others are extra-long twins.

The Element rooms also have a kitchenette area, which includes a dishwasher, refrigerator, stovetop and microwave.

Each of the facilities feature personal bathrooms, some with a bathtub.

While residents receive complimentary breakfast, such as hot breakfast sandwiches and smoothies served at The Element, these students will still be required to have a meal plan, the website said.

Prices have not been determined and will be decided at a Board of Trustees meeting in July 2012, a note at the bottom of the Housing website stated.

According to Ryan Farnkopf, director of housing operations for Residential Education and Housing, students living in hotels will pay $150 more a semester than on campus residents.

Farnkopf described in an email interview the security measures at the hotels, saying, “Both hotels have 24-hour front desk staff, key controlled side doors and cameras.  In addition, both hotels will be staffed by Residential Education and Housing.”

“The College is always concerned with safety and security, and encourage all our students to take proper precautions and exercise good judgment. Whether residing on campus, off campus, or in a hotel,” he continued.

Shuttles will serve as transportation to and from the College, according to the website, and will likely run every half hour. Students with cars may park in provided lots, and a commuter fee would be added.

Stallings explained that the shuttle schedule will be determined after a public bidding process takes places to select a transportation company.

So far, students have mixed reactions.

While sophomore business major Molly Crawford said the hotels’ amenities sound nice, she prefers the convenience of residing on campus.

“I’d rather be here and do things on my own time, not on a shuttle schedule,” she said.

As an out-of-state student and scholarship recipient, Crawford is guaranteed housing, but said if this were not the case, she may have considered the hotels.

Jonathan Velez echoed Crawford’s thoughts on the convenience of on-campus living.

“The library is here,” the junior English and secondary education double major said. “If you need a professor, you can just leave your room and go.”

Velez transferred to the College this year and currently resides in Norsworthy Hall.  If he doesn’t receive a timeslot, he said, “I’m just going to hustle and go off campus. “

Meanwhile, some students anticipated the shortage of housing and decided months ago to branch off.

“I already signed my lease,” said Robert Myers, sophomore biology major.

“I didn’t want to risk not getting housing… If I knew about the hotels and saw the pictures, I might have considered taking the hotel because I have a car,” Myers said, adding that he would’ve liked having his room cleaned once a week.

Unlike Myers, not all upperclassmen own vehicles, which adds hesitation to trusting the transportation system.

“I don’t have a car,” said Shannon Dooley, sophomore math and secondary education double major. “I don’t know if I would feel secure using a shuttle system, considering we’ve never done it before.”

Though Jaclyn Trippe also wants to live on campus because of the convenience, she acknowledged the upside of this new option.

The sophomore English and secondary education double major stayed in one of the rooms for a fraternity formal and said, “I’ve actually been to one of the hotels, The Element, and it’s really nice. I wouldn’t mind living there at all. It’s beautiful.”

Hotel information sessions are being held Tuesday evening, Feb. 7 in Mildred and Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall, and again on Wednesday, Feb. 8 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in Kendall Hall. Live online info sessions are also in the works.