FORT COLLINS, Colo. — For the fall 2022 semester at Colorado State University (CSU), there is not enough space for anywhere from 400 to 500 students to live on campus.
In total, the college has just over 8,000 campus housing beds, which include halls and apartments. Freshmen students are required to live on campus, with a few exceptions, and are assigned to the halls. The halls have just under 6,000 beds this year because Westfall Hall will undergo renovations starting in October. Westfall Hall has 450 beds available normally.
30,140 students were officially admitted to CSU for the upcoming semester, which is a 5.5% increase in applications when compared to last year. However, application numbers do not mean attendance numbers, and the university expects to have official occupancy numbers by early September.
The renovations, combined with a record-breaking enrollment year at CSU, means there is not enough space for all the first-year students.
“One of our options was to contact the Best Western and really kind of create that residence hall environment at the Best Western," said Laura Giles, associate director of housing and dining services at CSU. “The years that we didn't have more students than spaces were really the years that we were in the pandemic, and that made a lot of sense. And so, we're not the only institution right now that is having this issue in terms of more students than housing.”
Giles said some students will spend the start of the semester at the Best Western University Inn, which is just across the street from campus. The hotel has 70 rooms, and all of them are booked for the college.
"In the last 20 years, we've never housed students like this before," said Ashley Sommars, owner of the Best Western. “We did have to displace some guests, and so far, they've been very understanding, knowing that they're part of the solution, coming together as a community to help out Colorado State University students.”
Sommars said there will be RA's at the hotel, which will continue to have their front desk staffed and housekeeping once a week. On Monday, hotel staff will move all of their king size beds into storage, and the university will bring in twin size beds to take their place. Sommars expects students to start moving in on Thursday.
Facilities like the swimming pool and fitness room will be temporarily closed at the Best Western while the students are staying there.
“Absolutely, parents and families and students are concerned. It just feels like the unknown. College already feels like the unknown, and you add this layer on top of it," said Giles. “We feel like the same safety and security that we provide on campus is what we are duplicating in the Best Western.”
CSU is working with its police department to ensure staff is assigned to the hotel. The university is also working to create moving assistance to help students who have to move again once the semester has started.
Sommars estimated the hotel can house around 140 students. Those with CSU said they will transform some of their lounge spaces on campus into temporary housing, along with turning some single rooms into double rooms to increase capacity. They also have some apartment-style communities on campus, and those that are available will be used to house some of the freshman, as well.
In addition, Giles said the college monitors cancellations and "no shows" and expects there to be more rooms available once school actually starts.
“We will do that within the first couple of weeks of school. And as soon as we have verification that students are not attending, we will go ahead and move our students from our temporary housing into our permanent housing," Giles explained.
The rooms at Best Western are booked through the end of September, but CSU said they are prepared to extend that contract beyond September if needed.
Before construction starts, students will be housed on a few floors of Westfall Hall, but will be moved out when renovations begin on Oct. 1. Those will be the first students who are moved to permanent housing, and the next will be those staying at the Best Western.
CSU is anticipating Westfall Hall to open again in the fall 2023.