Out of place

    Inside University Place, two college-aged students stand at the front desk, checking in guests and answering calls. Walk out of the main wing of the Portland State on-campus hotel, and a makeshift sign stands inviting "overflows" into the student lounge.

    For students like Krista, a sophomore at PSU, this is temporary on-campus housing.

    Krista, who asked the Vanguard not to use her last name, moved into University Place the week before school started. Last year she lived in the Ondine Residence Hall and was planning to live in the Broadway Housing Building this term but misplaced her reapplication form. Coming back to classes this term left Krista wondering where she would be living.

    Last week there were 109 students displaced and living at the university’s hotel. Students like Krista, who are the of the overflow of students living on campus, are waiting for their applications to be processed and are waiting for a dorm room to open, according to Housing Manager Cheryl Spector.

    Some students at University Place complain of the lack of comfort at University Place and the stability they left at home like a refrigerator, a microwave, and DSL connection– amenities that University Place cannot provide in all its rooms at this time.

    "It kind of bites," Krista said. "Housing promised all these things and are not holding up their end of the bargain."

    "We encourage the meal plan," said John Eckman, associate director of Auxiliary Services, of the students staying at the hotel. "There’s no doubt that the rooms do lack some amenities, but over the summer we installed Res Net in the B wing, where several students have agreed to one-year contracts."

    Eckman said Auxiliary Services found 31 displaced students a unit in other on-campus buildings last week, leaving 78 students in 69 rooms that University Place provides for overflow. Eckman said this has caused double-ups and caused one or two people to be turned away.

    The overflow is due to the growth in demand for student housing. There have never been more students on the PSU campus as there are right now, according to estimates made by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning.

    The number of available units Portland State provides as on-campus housing is 1,574, just 100 units more than the number of freshman on this campus. A problem the university addressed this year is that students at both Portland State and Oregon Health Sciences University are eligible for on-campus housing.

    "There are only a half dozen or so OHSU students on campus," Eckman said. "But the conversation has come up three or four times already [among administrators]."

    The weekend that Krista was moving onto campus, the general manager of University Place Dennis Burkholder acted as a Resident Assistant, despite his qualifications. For ten years Burkholder was the general manager of the DoubleTree, the hotel that formerly occupied the University Place building.

    "I know this building inside and out," he said. Because all but 10 rooms in the 235-room property were full, Burkholder said he and his small staff were busier than usual this past week.

    University Place is the farthest university building from the main campus but is technically still in the University District. A brisk walk from Smith Memorial can take 10-minutes, but without directions the building can be missed.

    "Crossing at the intersection (4th and Lincoln) isn’t easy," Eckman said. "There’s no crosswalk on that south side."

    It is farther than most on-campus buildings from Safeway, the downtown grocery store many on-campus students use. Krista says eating and doing laundry are her biggest gripes.

    "It doesn’t take long to get here," said Krista, sitting next to a bike she bought for her commute. "But it’s weird how just a few minutes can make a difference."

    Because Krista attends class fulltime and works at a law firm downtown, she often does not get home until 8 or 9 p.m. The laundry facility at University Place is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

    It was Burkholder’s idea to turn rooms 267 and 268, two conjoining rooms, into the lounge. "It gives students a place to relax," he said. There is a refrigerator in the lounge, but Krista said she would never store food there.

    This weekend, due in part to the Portland Marathon, University Place was booked, along with other hotels downtown. "If we didn’t have student housing set aside, we could have sold more rooms," Burkholder said. "There’s always a demand for rooms during the marathon. People want to be as close as they can to the starting line."

    Burkholder said there is a difference between a student staying in the hotel and a guest, like one running in the marathon. "Students like to have more fun," Burkholder said, "and guests come here for a good night sleep."