Students are living the ‘suite’ life after being randomly selected to stay in a hotel for the semester. 

Written By Logan Garvey

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Point Park University officials made the decision to place a percentage of Lawrence Hall residents into hotels for the same price as their normal room payment. 

“We are utilizing the students’ room and board and the cost they are paying,” Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Keith Paylo said in a phone call. “We didn’t add any costs to them moving there. The university is using not board, but the room portion to help pay for it.”

Point Park partnered with the Hilton Garden Inn located in downtown Pittsburgh to offset the number of students living in Lawrence Hall, the biggest resident hall on-campus. Currently, approximately 130 students reside in the hotel, and life looks pretty similar to dorm living, with a few perks. 

Senior interdisciplinary design major Cassandra Letts is very happy about the comfort of the rooms, as discussed over a Zoom call along with the other student interviews below.

“The beds are obviously very nice,” Letts said. “I have a queen bed in my room and that’s much better than my twin-sized bed I would have in Lawrence. I saw some students in the gym and there is a laundry room here.”

Students residing at the hotel continue to use their pre-existing meal plans with the University for food, but are given the option by the hotel to pay for add-ons, such as additional sheets, room service, and cleaning services. Not only are there comfort appeals, but many have noticed the positives pertaining to health and safety. 

“We wanted to create as much social distancing as we could with our students,” Paylo said. “The key was to make sure we put our students in a position where they can be kept as safe and healthy as possible. We felt that Lawrence Hall needed to be less dense, and that’s why we chose to locate students into the hotel.” 

Students are in single rooms separated from one another, and senior Bryanna Madden has found that both the students and hotel staff are doing their part to make the situation run as smoothly as possible.

“I’ve noticed the hotel cleaning in depth quite a few times every couple of days. Everybody always has to wear masks, and the room policy is that you cannot have any person in your room besides yourself,” said Madden. “That means no family members, no friends, no colleagues from school, not even to use your restroom.”

Life looks different for both those living in the hotel and those residing on-campus. In terms of safety, the University has put Resident Educators (RE), more popularly known as RAs, on floors of the hotel to watch over students. Sophomore RE Dante Foster voluntarily chose to relocate to the hotel. 

“I originally was assigned to be on the 13th floor of Lawrence, but am also responsible for people who live on floors 5 and 6 at the hotel. Since I am here physically, I am making sure the people in the hotel abide by the rules and everything, but I am still responsible for the people on floor 13 even though I don’t live there technically right now,” said Foster. “Other REs monitor my floor and check-in with them to make sure they are following the rules.”

During this time, many feel isolated or separated from friends and loved ones, but there are still ways students have made the best of this uncalled for situation. 

“I enjoy being able to see my friends even if we have to social distance or just in passing,” said Letts. “I definitely do not regret my decision to come back, I am very pleased with what Point Park has done.”

Through these times, there is still good, and the Hilton Garden Inn are waymakers for positivity in trying circumstances. 

“When we got down to the lobby the first day of move-in there was the staff that had put up multiple tables, giant welcome signs, balloons everywhere,” said Paylo. “I mean it’s just one of those things where they went above and beyond in order to accommodate, and they have been absolutely consistent throughout, they have been wonderful to work with.”