Last semester, the university spent more than $400 thousand to rent out The Gateway Inn and Suites to house first year students because on-campus housing was at, and almost past, full capacity. Now, the hotel is free of students and on-campus housing is back to normal.
Dana Grant, Director for Residence Life Business Operations, said a combination of new residence policies and a large new dorm should eliminate the overflow problem by fall 2017.
“When we started this semester some people forgot to tell us that they were not coming back, and so we ended up putting about 15 guys in the University Hotel just for about five nights,” Grant said. “They’re all in the residence halls right now. Right now, we do not have an overflow problem. We’re back to normal capacity.”
Currently though, some students are still three to a room.
“I have some [students] that are by choice in a triple situation,” Grant said. “Anyone else who is in a situation where they’re in a room that isn’t normally designed for that many people, we’re taking those one by one. We do have vacancies, especially for females. Males we’re almost to 100 percent capacity but we’re not quite there yet.”
Sam Houston State offers all-female on-campus living options, but doesn’t offer the same for males. The current housing ratio is 68 percent female and 32 percent male.
New Rules for Next Fall
Grant credits some of the initial overflow problem to upperclassmen renewing their on-campus housing arrangements. Renewal for next year will open in a few weeks, but to help limit overflow, new regulations will be in place to make it harder for upperclassmen to stay on-campus.
“Because of the way we had such a shortage for housing this last fall, we’re going to be limiting renewal numbers and we’re going to be doing renewal a little bit differently…to make things more fair and to limit [upperclassmen].”
First year students are still required to live on-campus. Final details of the renewal process are not yet confirmed.
“Overall I enjoyed Gateway Inn”
Michael Azuike was one of the freshman who spent last semester at the Gateway Inn and said that even though it wasn’t perfect, he wouldn’t mind doing it over again.
“It was pretty good overall,” Azuike said. “The shuttle service was reliable and we received room service once a week. The one thing that I disliked was transportation after 8 p.m. was difficult. The shuttle would stop running at 8 p.m.. Overall I enjoyed Gateway Inn and I wouldn’t have a problem staying there another semester.”
Junior Kierra Williams is another first year student who lived at Gateway. She said the advantages included the friendly staff and homey atmosphere.
“I liked how friendly the hotel owner was,” Williams said. “He tried to make sure we were all okay and comfortable during our stay. The free cable, mini fridge, microwave and TV were a plus too because it helped me save money to buy books for the semester.”
The disadvantages again included the shuttle service.
“It was only available at certain times and it stopped early so I missed out on a couple fun things that would happen on campus,” she said. “Another thing I didn’t like was the Wi-Fi connection, it came and went which gave the students a lot of pressure when it came time for submitting papers and homework assignments online.”
Gateway Inn cost the university over $400,000 to rent out for the semester, according to Grant. Students who were living in the hotel were charged with a mid-range priced dorm. The smallest and least expensive houses on campus are priced at $1,860 and the larger houses range from $2,044 to $2,992.
Construction on a new dorm is set to be complete in fall 2017. The house will host 700 students, thus eliminating the overflow problem, according to Grant.