University teams up with local hotels to account for housing shortage

As Towers Hall gears up for renovations next semester, on-campus housing looks to Larson Companies for stability

More stories from Nicole Bellford



The Clarion Hotel, owned by Larson Companies, will offer all 137 of their rooms for university housing in the 2018-18 academic year.

Due to shortages in UW-Eau Claire’s on-campus housing facilities, many students will end up living the “suite life” next semester.

Larson Companies, a hospitality management service, announced in a recent press release they have agreed to aid with university housing, announcing plans for the local Clarion Hotel on Craig Road to make the entirety of their 137 rooms available for students in the upcoming 2017-18 academic year. This plan is set to serve as a temporary solution for housing shortages during the Towers Hall renovations taking place over the next two years.

Taylor Hoffman, a junior organizational communication student, said she experienced hotel placement due to housing shortages last year.

“We got an email at the end of the semester from housing, offering incentives like extra meal plan dollars to volunteer to live in a hotel,” Hoffman said. “Since I already experienced the dorms freshman year, I said I would do it.”

Hoffman said the placement posed both advantages and disadvantages.

She said she enjoyed having her own personal bathroom rather than a communal facility, but transportation was a constant struggle between a complicated bus schedule and limited parking availability both on and off campus. Hoffman said she ended up cancelling her upper campus meal plan because it was such a hassle to get there.

While the university typically ends up housing roughly 300 students in hotels off campus every school year, WQOW said the dorm renovations on Towers will leave an additional 650 students without a bed. The remainder of students left without housing will be offered rooms in the America’s Best Value Inn.

While there is a likelihood the upcoming Water Street apartments currently in construction will be made available to students, according to WQOW, no plans have yet been confirmed for next year. However, the university expects to break ground in the 2018-19 academic year on a debut dormitory building in attempts to fix recurring housing shortage problems.

Hoffman said although living in a hotel worked out for her, she fears freshmen placed in her situation will miss out on a more authentic college experience.

“I just don’t think it’s a good idea for freshmen,” Hoffman said. “(The hotel) is so much more secluded than the dorms, and they would miss out on stuff like the caf or the Lookout. (Housing services) would need to be proactive about fixing that gap.”

Quincy Chapman, director of housing and residence life, said his department has a plan to do just that. He explained the hotels will have resident assistants, designated rooms for computer labs, study lounges and social areas to generate an experience similar to the dorms.

Chapman also said that living in the hotels will provide additional luxuries otherwise unavailable in the dorms, such as queen sized beds and access to the hotel’s pool and hot tub area. Overall, he said he believes the hotel benefits outweigh all else and students will end up enjoying their time there, as they have in past years.

“I think when students first learn they are going to live in a hotel, it’s hard to imagine it,” Chapman said. “But once students get there they really like it. The rooms are just more expansive and those extra amenities offset the downsides. It makes it worth the distance.”

Larson Companies said following the conclusion of the upcoming academic year, Clarion Hotel plans to once again open its doors to the public. In the meantime, their associated bar and restaurant, Green Mill, remains open for business.