SAN ANTONIO — Nearly 100 Texas A&M San Antonio students called a hotel room home this semester due to an on-campus dormitory shortage. Their bags must be packed and taken out before departure on Saturday morning.
TAMUSA student Lily Reimherr Buckert first broke the story in an article published in the student newspaper, Mesquite.
“It was a bit personal, honestly, because I live in the dorms,” Reimherr Buckert said. “I was wondering what my options would be for next year.”
Students living at the hotel do not have a meal plan, but like other hotel guests, their stay includes free breakfast and cleaning services.
“We of course appreciated the free breakfast, but everything else was the same (compared to the dorms),” said Bernice Correa. Correa is a junior at TAMUSA living in one of two hotels on the south side of town.
Lack of planning and space leads to 120 students living in hotels.
“We stopped taking bookings at the end of the summer, but we already had around 150 students wanting to move in,” Don Albrecht said. Albrecht is the Special Assistant and Chief of Staff for Student Success and Engagement.
Currently, that number is down to 97.
Hotel living for students costs $1,500 less per semester than living in Esperanza Hall, the university’s only dormitory that houses about 375 students.
Each student shares their small room with an assigned roommate. Similar to dorms, each hotel has a designated Resident Advisor or RA.
“It’s pretty neat,” Michelle Irving said. Irving is ranked junior. This is his first year at TAMUSA. “ARs are very (accessible). You can talk to them anytime, and they give you contact info and everything (that you need).
Other students like Janie Serna say it’s an unusual setup.
“Not having the meal plan, of course, and the shuttle (it’s hard),” Serna said.
The freshmen will be returning to the hotel for the spring semester and they hope the university will fix some issues.
“Just the shuttle, because, for example, the (shuttle) schedules would change a lot,” Serna said. “So sometimes we missed (the shuttle) or just waited a long time.”
Both hotels are approximately a 15 minute drive from campus.
“They leave (campus) on time and leave hotels on the half hour,” Albrecht said.
For other students, living in a hotel has affected their college experience.
“(I want) more space and more privacy,” Correa said. “Also, I thought I connected more (with the students) when I was in the dorms. You know more about school happenings when you’re in the dorms…(because) they posted it everywhere.
Unlike dorms, students will be required to vacate their hotel room by Saturday, no exceptions.
“I guess it’s kind of like the lag,” Irving said. “It’s not a dorm (where) you can just leave your stuff, but I mean, it prepares you a bit (for the future). When you live in an apartment, you have a lease and you have to move out by a certain date.
Irving is expected to return to the hotel Jan. 7. So far, TAMUSA expects another 69 students to live in a hotel room during the spring semester.
According to university administrators, some Esperanza Hall students have opted to add a fifth person to their dorm in exchange for a reduced rate. The real solution, however, would not come for about a year and a half.
“The A&M System board meets in February and again in May,” Albrecht said. “We plan to present proposals and details at these meetings (for a new dormitory). The system works with us to develop these plans and asks (for) the financial part of this.
If approved, construction could begin by summer 2021. According to Albrecht, the goal is to “have this new facility open by fall 2023.”
The new dormitory would also house around 375 students.
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