In early August, hundreds of students were informed that they would be spending the next semester of college in a hotel. First, it started with renting out a Home2 Suites located on U.S. Highway 41. Now, New College students are located at three different hotels in Sarasota. Home2 is entirely composed of students, while the others are intermingled with tourists visiting the Sarasota area.
It all began when students received an email stating that new and incoming athletes would be receiving dorms in Dort and Goldstein, the most expensive dorms on campus. These dorms were built with the purpose of allowing thesising students privacy and space to complete their theses in preparation for graduating. This left many upperclassmen who had been promised a room in these apartment-style dorms wondering where they would be living for the upcoming Fall semester.
Due to the influx of students, New College was forced to rent out a nearby hotel to house students. With B Dorm and Pei 1 taken offline due to being inhabitable, there were not enough rooms to house every student. An email informing students of the situation was sent out three days before the off-campus housing application deadline would end, leaving many students frustrated at having little to no time to organize an alternative living arrangement. This email also included information regarding a shuttle system that would be used to assist students who did not have a car to be transported to and from campus. Students later learned that this shuttle stops once every hour and holds 11 students at a time.
On Aug. 16th, students were notified that the mold reports for the Pei dorms had come back stating that the rooms were inhabitable, meaning that more students needed to be displaced in hotels. Therefore New College bought a floor from two other hotels: the Hilton and the Hyatt, both located within a mile of campus. This meant that students were going to be living with tourists staying at their respective hotels.
Students also received information about general rules regarding living within the hotels. These rules include but are not limited to: no decorating the guest rooms, no hanging posters or other decorations on the walls of the guest rooms, allowing a mandatory weekly cleaning service and more. The complete list of these rules can be seen below:
Meanwhile, NCSA Co-President and thesis student Colin Jefferis is working hard to create opportunities for affordable off-campus housing for students. He is also working hard to find alternate transportation for students in order to make students as comfortable as possible during this unique situation.
He is attempting to do this while residing in a hotel room of his own located in the Home2 Suites.
“The hotels have been super helpful and accommodating,” Jefferis stated.
When asked if he felt isolated from campus, he responded, “It’s a new barrier to overcome.” Although he is separated from the New College community on campus, he states, “There are good communities within the hotels.”
He believes the shuttle system to be effective, albeit a bit crowded. Otherwise, he is working diligently to ensure that students are as comfortable as possible in their living situations.
Second year Camryn Robinson also resides in Home2 Suites.
“Living here now is awesome,” Robinson stated,. She ensured that she would have a hotel room to herself by paying the extra rates, allowing her to have privacy and creative freedom when it comes to decorating.
“The staff are nice and super helpful,” she added.
Her only complaint is that the shuttle system is effective but still difficult—although it’s helpful due to her lack of transportation. When asked about the shuttle itself, she said, “It’s small, it fits about nine people comfortably.”
She mentions that although the shuttle seats 11, it gets quite crowded.
“It’s definitely hard to get to classes since it only runs every hour.” Robinson said, frustrated by the shuttle schedule. “I dropped a class because I wasn’t going to take the shuttle an hour early.”
When asked about feeling isolated from campus, she responded, “It does feel isolated from the main campus and getting back and forth isn’t the best but overall it’s a lot better than I would’ve expected.”
“It’s not the college experience I expected,” Robinson said.
Robinson has completely decorated her room. Although she is unable to hang posters and decor on the wall, she has found other ways to personalize her room via plushies, stationary and other decorations.
New College students seem to be doing what they do best: adapting and thriving in the best ways possible. Students living in hotels have created their own communities and are making the most out of their situation. The overall reviews regarding the hotels have been generally positive with most complaints being about the shuttle system’s schedule. This is something Jefferis is attempting to find solutions to and is working diligently to solve.