STORRS, Conn. (AP) — While most college students who have arrived back on campus this fall can look forward to communal bathrooms and bunk beds, Kaitlin Murphy anticipates nicer living arrangements at the University of Connecticut's Storrs campus.
Murphy is among nearly 20 students who will live this semester at the Nathan Hale Inn on campus. The rooms at Nathan Hale are available on a first-come, first-served basis for any student willing to pay double the normal housing cost. By offering rooms to students, the hotel helps UConn accommodate more students needing on-campus housing in dorms.
Unlike most off-campus housing facilities, the cost of a hotel room includes electricity, heat, water, Internet access, cable, and phone service. Students also have pool and gym access, cleaning available twice a week, and room service.
"I'm most excited about the maid service, 24-hour room service, and the gym and pool areas," said Murphy, a fifth-semester student.
An extended stay at the Nathan Hale costs $79 a night, which is about 50 percent below the hotel's normal rate, according to Brian Wells, the hotel's general manager. Considering that most students stay about 112 nights a semester, living at the Nathan Hale is about double the price of on-campus housing, which ranges from $3,048 to $4,987 a semester.
"Students living here are entitled to all the services and opportunities other guests have," said Wells. "We don't call it housing, we call our students guests."
The Nathan Hale helps to fill a need for rooms on the Storrs campus, where the 18 undergraduate facilities housed 75 percent of its full-time students last year. That left about 4,000 students living off-campus, according to UConn's housing website.
Students typically opt for local apartment complexes and houses. But, for the past 10 years, they have had the option to secure an extended stay at the Nathan Hale, Wells said. The arrangement began in 2002 when the university housed about 40 students at the Inn while it was trying to expand on-campus housing. The hotel then decided to keep taking in students depending on how many rooms they have available.
Extended stays at the hotel have become increasingly popular over the past decade, said Wells.
By filling some of its rooms with students, the hotel can offset vacancies throughout the year. Living in the hotel is especially appealing to students who have to stay an extra semester to finish their degree and do not want to sign a year-long lease at another off-campus facility, Wells said. It is also a preferable off-campus option for students with medical issues, privacy concerns, and a need for a more focused environment, he said.
Last year, approximately 300 students were denied housing, said UConn assistant vice president Steve Kremer.
The Oaks on the Square, a new apartment complex with 120 apartments, opened this fall off campus to house students. The university hasn't built any on-campus housing since 2002 and has no immediate plans to build more housing, Kremer said. Instead, the university would rather improve existing buildings. Those improvements would include adding air conditioning to buildings without it, making the bathroom areas more private, and making all buildings accessible to the handicapped, he said.