FORT COLLINS, Colo. — When students start moving into Colorado State University (CSU) this month, about 150 of them will be making a temporary home at a hotel next to campus.
CSU said it underestimated how many freshman would arrive on campus this semester. A spokesperson for the university said their application numbers were 5% higher, and they had fewer people canceling plans than anticipated.
“Our projections were on target until about Memorial Day weekend and that’s where… we expected a lot more students to cancel or 'melt', and not come to CSU, and that’s not the case this year,” said Laura Giles, Associated Executive Director for CSU’s Housing and Dining Services.
In addition to the extra students, the university is losing a number of rooms due to a construction project at Westfall Hall.
“We have a residence hall we're going to take offline on October 1 to do renovations to that building, so that reduces our occupancy for about 450 students.”
In all, Giles said about 400-500 students will start the year in temporary housing. The university is making use of extra lounge space, doubling up former single rooms, using apartment communities and even a nearby hotel.
“We know we needed more space, we’re partnering with the Best Western [University Inn], which we partnered with during COVID. So we’re really looking for [this arrangement] as – how do we duplicate that residence hall experience within that hotel?”
CSU says the hotel will serve only students during this time, with no public guests. They'll have on-site staff, and partner with hotel staff and campus police to ensure campus safety policies and procedures still apply. And students temporarily living at the hotel will have access to on-campus amenities.
Campus housing is often priced based on the layout, and amenities available. Giles said the temporary rooms will be priced at the lowest housing rate. Students will still select (and be charged, accordingly, for) their meal plan preference.
Giles said some families have been grateful their student has somewhere to live. Others have been less than excited about the prospect of temporary housing solutions.
“We’re doing everything we can to welcome them, and talk about, ‘We’re going to wrap our arms around you as a CSU community,’” she said.
“We realize it’s not your college dream – so how can we do this the best we can?” she said.
CSU has a little more than 8,000 campus housing beds total which include residence halls and apartments. With Westfall Hall’s pending renovation closure, the dorm capacity is about 6,000, CSU said.
Once the semester begins, the university expects some attrition, which will open up bed space for more students. Giles said the students who finalized their housing earliest – meaning they made roommate and housing selections first – were able to secure housing more easily.
“We still had applications [coming in] this summer, so anybody who came in after July 1 is really being placed in temporary housing,” she said.
Giles said CSU is part of a national trend among many colleges now seeing increased interest in applications and on-campus housing.
“It’s an exciting problem to have. This says to me students want to come to college, they want to come to CSU,” she said.
“We also don’t know if its partially [due to] the pandemic – that students took a year or two off, and kind of waited for dust to settle, and say I want my regular experience, now they’re able to come in.”
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