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The Tartan

The Tartan: University Living
Temporary Housing Exceeds Students' Expectations
By Ish Harshawat

After a long day of classes this past week at CMU, most students were probably more than glad to get back to their dorm rooms, or maybe their off-campus apartments. For Pil Fong, the routine was a fifteen-minute walk back to a bag of clothes and to many first-year students. Then again, there was also the plush bed, a kitchen, and cable TV - all courtesy of the Shadyside Inn and Housing Services.

Fong, a sophomore electrical and computer engineering major, is currently the resident assistant (RA) for first-year students placed in temporary housing in Shadyside Inn. he is no stranger to this type of experience, 'I lived in temporary housing last year and it is definitely a different [than normal] situation,' he said.

For four of the past five years, due to complications with housing spaces, a number of students have been placed in temporary housing situations. Last year, approximately 40 first-years, including Fong, lived in the Hampton Inn for part of the year. This year, however, Housing Services reached a deal with the more luxurious Shadyside Inn. Currently, pairs of students share rooms with two fully furnished separate bedrooms, a television, a kitchen, and a full bathroom. In addition, students can get to campus by using the CMU shuttle service.

The beginning of the school year started out with 41 first-year students, and five additional transfter students, living in Shadyside Inn. Fong and Samuel Malloy, a fifth-year senior in business administration, are the temporary RAs. According to Fong, the accommodations this year far surpass those in the Hampton Inn. 'The Shadyside Inn presented itself as an option that would cost less,' said Bob Wilson, associate director of Housing Services. 'It's a very nice setup.'

'We do not have housing supply that meets demand,' said Wilson. However, housing spaces are freed up due to some residents' wish to move off campus, inability to make it back to CMU for the school year, or other reasons that force housing contract cancellations. The majority of students have already moved into permanent housing assignments, and Wilson said his priority is to get all the first-year students into permanent housing by the end of this week. However, this won't be the end of the story for the Shadyside Inn.

Currently 12 upper-division and transfer students are housed in the Holiday Inn. Unlike the first-years, these students were never guaranteed housing, but Housing made an exception for them because they were deemed unable to find their own accomodations before the beginning of the school year. Once spaces in the Shadyside Inn free up, these students will move there - a kind of temporary housing. They were informed that they could be there for as long as a semester, but Wilson was more optimistic about their future. 'I have a feeling that we're going to get them out in the month of September,' he said.

The necessity of housing brings up the question of whether there will be a new dorm built. Last semester plans were discussed for a new dorm near Donner. However, according to Michael Murphy, dean of Student Affairs, these plans have been put on hold pending the Master Plan Initiative, which will be used to plan out future decisions for building on campus. In the past, plans were canceled for a dorm betweeen Mudge and Morewood due to neighbor complaints.

According to Murphy, a new dorm would not have a great effect on temporary housing. 'But it would have an impact on limiting first-year students assigned in our off-campus (Oakland/Shadyside) housing.' Currently around 530 students live in off-campus residences provided by Housing Services. In one recent year, the number of students in temporary housing reached a peak at 90. Another year, there were none. Wilson said he feels the situation in Shadyside is very manageable. 'It's not so severe that the impact is devastating,' he said. Housing will continue to grant housing cancellations until all students can be accommodated.

In the meantime, the few students currently still living in the Shadyside Inn are enjoying the high life while they still can. 'The advantage is that the room [is] air-conditioned,' said Fez Qamar, a first-year student in business administration, who will move out today. 'No stress. Shadyside is awesome.'