Hotel service

Story by Ben Rueter

I came to UW-Eau Claire a little over a year ago as a transfer student. One of the first things that a transfer student has to go through is housing. I had to sign up for a dorm and then I was told later that I would be living in a hotel near the campus. I’ll admit I was excited and somewhat confused.

For those who don’t already know, Eau Claire houses its incoming transfer students in the neighboring hotels (America’s Best Value Inn and The Plaza) when the dorms are at full capacity. Living in the hotel was a fun experience. We had the same rules as any of the dorms on campus, but we had access to almost everything a hotel had to offer. This included the hot tub, pool, our own bathrooms, HBO and fresh sheets whenever we needed them. The walk and/or bus ride became a pain, but the people I met there I’ve become close friends with still to this day.

I know that sounds all sweet and fuzzy, but I still don’t understand why the university keeps their extra students in the hotels. I transferred here from UW-Milwaukee. Anyone that has gone there or knows someone there will tell you that they have an on-campus housing issue. I was accepted into UWM late and was unable to live in the dorms. Mind you, the dorms at UWM house around 3,000 students and are about 20 floors high. Yet with all that room I still could not live on campus. Thanks to the great housing staff at UWM, I was able to find an apartment two blocks from campus. It was a little on the pricey side, but I made ends meet.

I was expecting when transferring to Eau Claire that I would be helped to find a house or apartment off-campus if the housing office could not place me in the dorms. This was not the case.

This seems like a simple fix. Either don’t accept so many students so that you need to house them in a hotel, help them find a place off campus or build more dorms. Honestly, as much fun as I had living in the hotel, if I had the option to live off campus in a house or apartment, I would have taken it. Moving into the hotel I didn’t know anyone, so I would be in the same boat living off campus anyways.

I understand that most freshmen accepted into UWEC have to live on campus. Most if not all of the students living at the hotel I stayed at were sophomore status or above. Most of us have had the dorm living experience, so why do we have to be forced into living there again upon transferring? Heck, some of the transfer students were above the age of 25. Having to live in the dorms again is a bit restricting if you’re that old.

This all may sound like I’m a spoiled brat if you’ve lived on campus your entire stay at UWEC. By all means, the hotels are very nice; they are, after all, hotel rooms and not dorm rooms. However, if Eau Claire has a housing situation, pawning students off to the hotels is not the best way for us “new kids” to be acquainted with everyone.

One of the fears of transferring schools somewhere is simply fitting in. I was not a freshman, but I had no established social group in Eau Claire yet. Being so removed from upper campus dorm life, lower campus, and the off-campus crowd, I eventually just stayed in the hotel and made friends there. We all became close once the semester ended. Then guess what, we have to move out and move into the dorms. We all needed to adjust to another move to a somewhat unfamiliar place and do the awkward “new kid” dance again.

I am aware that UWEC has plans to create more dormitories, so this may solve the hotel issue. The creation of new dormitories is the expensive route, but it seems that UWEC knows about the hotel issue and is taking steps to correct it. Though it still is possible that UWEC will still use the hotels after the construction to house even more students. Here’s hoping that there are no more future “hotel students” here in Eau Claire.