Overflow housing forces students off campus

Sitting in a nearly empty shuttle, senior exchange student from Spain, Adrian Rebollal, rides over to campus to get dinner. The bus across U.S. 1 takes only five minutes and leaves him at Stanford Circle, ready to walk to the Mahoney-Pearson dining hall.

“I would love if they had a bridge across U.S. 1,” Rebollal said. “When you go walking it is so crowded.”

The Coral Gables Holiday Inn may be just across the street, but the hotel is a world away from the on-campus lifestyle.

Last semester’s housing lottery has had a significant effect on the on-campus population.

Many students who wanted to live on campus this year were not granted the opportunity- some got off the wait list and found rooms, some went off campus to the surrounding Coral Gables apartments and homes, while 30 other students, and the entire University of Miami Intensive English Program, are in limbo and are being housed at the Holiday Inn until a spot can open up.

“This is a little different use of the hotel as temporary overflow housing,” said Jon Baldessari, associate director of the Department of Housing and Residential Life. “There are early cancellations or people that don’t show up- we call them no shows. We can move those folks [at the hotel] onto campus pretty quickly. We never intended to keep people there longer than the end of September. Actually we are a little bit ahead of schedule.”

The students residing at the Holiday Inn are mainly transfer students and upperclassmen or a part of the UM Intensive English Program. The hotel rooms are split into double occupancy and the fees are comparable to the double-occupancy dorm rates. The residents also have an on-campus meal plan, although they have to cross U.S. 1 in order to use it.

This is not the first time that University of Miami students have been housed at the Coral Gables Holiday Inn.

In 2005, the university had almost 200 students residing at the hotel, Baldessari said. After 2005, the Department of Housing and Residential Life did not need overflow housing.

That all changed last year when the university decided to tear down the apartment area, thus eliminating dorm space and creating a housing lottery.

Despite not receiving accommodations on campus, students seem happy living at the Holiday Inn.

“I got a king size bed, my own shower, two TVs, a balcony,” said freshman Drew Doidge, a New Jersey local who currently resides at the Holiday Inn while taking part-time classes. “I got a pool. It’s awesome.”

The students also have maid service and access to room service, constant reminders that they are staying in a hotel and not in Eaton or the towers. The students can also use the hotel pool and the small fitness center.

Staying at the hotel, however, does not offer the connection to the rest of the university that living in the dorms provides.

“They seem to be getting kind of bored already around here,” said Edgar Morales, a manager on duty for the Coral Gables Holiday Inn.

Many students living at the hotel are students in the Intensive English program and are new to the campus lifestyle.

These students are international as well and are living in Miami and in the country for the first time.

By not being able to live in the dorms, the students may miss out on important information and activities, like pep rallies, on-campus movies and club meetings, further isolating them from the on-campus population.

“My only regret is that I’m not around what’s going on on campus,” Doidge said. “Everything I hear from my friends is about the dorms.”

Many of the students won’t have to wait long to become a part of campus life.

Once space opens up, the students will be moved into the residence halls. Students in the Intensive English program, however, may be housed in the Holiday Inn for the remainder of the program.

“Now they are going to move me to Mahoney, it’s nice,” Rebollal said. “I know everybody from the dorms, and everybody loves me in Pearson and Mahoney. I would like to have a better bed, a better room.”

Nancy Oben may be contacted at noben@themiamihurricane.com.