Due to an unexpected surge in the number of accepted students who enrolled during the fall semester, at least 50 American University freshmen found themselves starting off their college experience at the Holiday Inn Georgetown.

Located only a few miles from campus, the Holiday Inn was the perfect choice for the university, said Chris Moody, AU’s housing and dining director.

“When we were faced with a larger demand for campus housing than was available in our supply on-campus, we quickly looked at apartments, hotels and other available rental properties,” Moody said.

The goal was not only to house students, Moody said, but also to keep them together in one unit rather than spread them out.

“We felt strongly that we wanted students to be able to have strong communities in the options that we provided off campus, but we also knew that location was an important factor,” said Moody.

The distance from the campus to the hotel did pose problems for the university, however.

“Funding a round-the-clock shuttle service was not feasible or realistic,” said Moody.

Instead the university arranged for students to use hotel vehicles and worked with the students and hotel management to develop a schedule that worked for most students. In some circumstances, the university even paid for limousines to shuttle students to and from campus.

This unique housing arrangement prompted the university to take additional measures to ease potential conflicts between students and hotel staff.

“We hired a full time staff member to reside at the hotel with the students and to work directly with the hotel management,” said Moody, “a strategy which was successful from all perspectives and helped to minimize any of the drawbacks that arose.”

In an earlier article posted on the Washington City Paper web site, Moody attributed the increased enrollment numbers to a rising popularity of the school in the media. Last year the school received a larger amount of positive press from a combination of athletic and academic successes as well as political attention – Ted and Caroline Kennedy announced their support for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign at American’s Bender Arena last January.

While some Georgetown students may jealously look at the luxurious accommodations of a hotel and limousine service, some American students reported that they were disappointed with the experience.

Geoff Ramsey, 20, told the Washington City Paper, “The impermanence of the entire thing really got to me,” he says. “You can never really get used to living in a hotel. It’s not meant to be lived in long-term.”

Those at American who were opposed to living at the hotel at the beginning of the semester had other options for housing including rooms at the Georgian, an apartment building in Silver Spring.

“There were many options available to students with the hotel being one of the options presented. Any student who did not want to accept any of the options was allowed to cancel their on-campus housing contract at no penalty,” Moody said.

No student will be living in the Holiday Inn for this semester.

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