SJSU students check into a hotel — for the year
Originally published by the San Jose Mercury News Aug. 24, 2011.
By Ellen Huet
Carefully taped, not pinned, posters of James Bond’s “Quantum of Solace” have replaced Kinkade-esque wall art of flowered archways and helped convert one wing of the Clarion Hotel into San Jose State’s newest dorm for 90 students.
The students began moving in over the weekend in preparation for Wednesday, the first day of classes, and expect to stay there for the fall and, probably, spring semesters. The accommodations are similar to those on campus — one room with two beds — but the North Fourth Street hotel’s sparkling pool, fitness center and weekly cleaning service are a definite upgrade from traditional dorm life.
The hotel restaurant, the Island Grill, gives students a 20 percent discount, including on fare such as the “Kahuna Breeze Salad” and a Sunday buffet that SJSU spokeswoman Pat Lopes Harris says is already popular with students.
This is the first year that SJSU requires all nonlocal freshmen to live on campus, and it also happens to be welcoming an incoming class of around 4,000 — more than a 1,000 student increase from last year’s freshman class.
To accommodate all freshmen on campus, SJSU nudged these hotel students — who are all returning — out of their previously confirmed campus housing into the Clarion Hotel over the summer. Some students considered it an unwelcome surprise.
“I was annoyed when I found out I’d be moving, mainly because I’m from San Diego, and it’s already inconvenient to live around here,” said Hector Liang, a sophomore international business major. He has a car that he’ll use to make the 10-minute, three-mile drive back and forth, but since he has an on-campus afternoon and evening job as a building assistant, getting bumped off campus made his days more complicated.”The room in itself is better — bigger beds, a fridge, bathroom,” he said. “My only complaint is the distance from campus.”
Other students found the hotel’s perks to their liking.
“The amenities outweigh any inconvenience,” said Nick Matejovsky, a sophomore, pointing to the cable television and Jacuzzi.
All the students are located in one wing, with two resident assistants and one senior staff member who will also live in the hotel. Students’ rooms were stripped of towels and linens — meaning some students, accustomed to the dorms’ twin beds, had to buy new sheets for the full hotel beds. The hotel art and room Bibles were removed.
SJSU residential programs that welcome all students are being sure to include the hotel students, Harris said. SJSU students were bused to the nearby Target on Sunday night after the store’s regular closing to stock up on dorm gear, leading to what Harris guessed is “a whole lot of Target” in the hotel rooms, which students are already decorating.Matejovsky, who plays on the school’s hockey team, is pairing his James Bond posters with signed photos from hockey games that will line the walls as he watches movies on his PlayStation 3.
“It already has a college feel to it,” he said.
As to whether the hotel will have to be contracted for another year of student housing, “We’re working on a different way of prioritizing housing assignments,” Harris said.
Students had better enjoy the poolside living while they can.
Contact Ellen Huet at 408-920-5852.