‘Feels like I’m dorming anyway’: Hotels housing college students in effort to social distance

When Bailey Hedges requested where she wanted to live on campus this fall during her first semester at the University of Pittsburgh, staying in a hotel wasn’t an option.

Until it was.

The university followed up with Hedges, 18, after she submitted her initial on-campus housing application to find out if she’d want to live at a hotel instead. She said yes – skeptically.

“I didn’t know if other people were going to be in the hotel that weren’t students,” she told USA TODAY. But it turned out her hotel, the Wyndham University Center, located on campus, would be completely full of first-year students, so “it feels like I’m dorming anyway,” she said. Her room includes traditional hotel room decor like a dresser and desk, but her One Direction shower curtain is a reminder the room belongs to a student.

Hotel chains, including Wyndham, Hilton and Graduate Hotels, are working with universities to house students during the coronavirus pandemic, matching the need of the hotel industry to make money and alleviate low occupancy numbers and universities’ attempts to safely bring students back to campus. But time will tell if this experiment will help keep students as well as hotel guests and staff safe, or lead to continued complications that come with people congregating in larger groups.

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