Due to limited housing space, students have had to adjust to living in the Lake Wright hotel off campus.
Going to college normally consists of moving into dorm halls, getting acquainted and adjusting to living with roommates and familiarizing oneself with the campus. Students begin to make friends, arrange social gatherings and live new independent lives.
However, for 50 students, move-in day was filled with greetings in a hotel lobby and luggage carts.
“Fortunately, the number of students living in the hotels has decreased significantly,” said Desiree Ladyman, Residence Life housing coordinator. “We had close to 50 students scheduled to live there when school began. There are 25 students in the Lake Wright hotel, including RAs. The hotel also has an assigned Village Coordinator.”
Virginia Wesleyan College has worked with Lake Taylor for many years now. The college has a great relationship with the hotel and their staff works hard to provide the best accommodations to the students living there. The hotel houses overflow resident students when dorms, suites, apartments and townhouses are filled.
There is no difference in the cost to live on campus when living in the hotel.
“The students pay the same price and have the same meal plan as students in Village I,” said Ladyman.
“Amenities at the Lake Wright for students include an indoor/outdoor pool, a fitness room, free Wi-Fi and an event room for programs and meetings. Students also enjoy private bathrooms, fresh sheets and towels, and a delicious buffet breakfast that is offered downstairs each morning,” said Ladyman. “It is our hope that living together in the Lake Wright offers an experience for students that is as close as possible to being on campus.”
The college does try to keep students housed together to further promote the feeling of community, so all the students are housed on the second floor of the hotel. The students in the Lake Wright consist of female freshmen and male returning students.
Students are moved over to campus as rooms open up (due to transfers, withdrawals and residents becoming commuters) in order of their deposit date (for freshmen) and continuing enrollment payment date (for upperclassmen). This goes against the common notion that the hotel only houses underclassmen.
The college hopes that the living situation at the hotel is only temporary.
“We anticipate having students [at the hotel] for the remainder of the semester, but should be able to house all students on campus in the spring semester,” said Ladyman.
“One thing that I miss from living in the hotel is the beds. They are a lot better than those available on campus,” said sophomore Steven Franklin, who lived in the hotel during the first week of school. “Oh, and I will miss the room service.”
One accommodation the college provides is transportation for students living in the hotel.
“The Marlin Transit is working out very well,” said Ladyman. “It is offered multiple times per day and is driven by our Village Coordinators and members of the Batten staff. Many students also have their own vehicles or ride with friends to campus.”
Not everyone at the hotel is agrees with this notion.
“It was difficult to get to campus because of the bus schedule,” said junior Karim Kerr. “I don’t have a car, so relying solely on the bus schedule was [a difficult adjustment].”
“While [the students] are not physically on campus, they are still part of the campus community and will have programs and other events like the students who live in any of the residence halls,” said Ladyman.
The feeling of community differs greatly amongst those living in the hotels.
“It was almost as if we lived in a separate community,” said Kerr. “Spending time on campus, especially between classes was difficult because there was no place for me to lie down or to just relax. It was just different than living on campus.”
“Because I was living at the hotel, I felt excluded because I was an upperclassman,” said Franklin. “I wasn’t able to hang out with my friends till late at night. My social life was disrupted by the shuttle schedule.”
“The RAs have said there is a real sense of community among the freshmen girls over there, and there are quite a few who have requested to stay together over at the Lake Wright even if a room becomes available for them on campus,” said Ladyman.