Hotels play host to Fulbright Hall residents in housing limbo

Media Credit: Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

Sophomores Katie Sigety and Sam Carpenter settled into a room in the Renaissance Dupont Circle hotel while Fulbright Hall continues to undergo renovations.

The day after she moved into her new room, sophomore Hannah Sessler lost her key – but instead of trekking to the key depot to pay a $150 fine, she just stopped by the front desk for a new key card.

Another day, Sessler woke up at 8 a.m. to the sound of housekeepers banging on her door, but she recalled thinking, “who am I to get mad at the cleaning service when I’m never going to have that ever again?”

That’s been the experience for Sessler and about 100 students slated to live in Fulbright Hall who are now living in two hotels to start the academic year, after summer renovations at the residence hall took longer than planned on the top floors of the building. In exchange for having to move twice, the University will provide her – and all the other Fulbright students living in hotels – with extra dining cash, a laundry delivery service, pre-paid laundry swipes and a partial housing refund, officials said.

Sessler is staying in the Renaissance Dupont Circle hotel until she moves into her residence hall room Sept. 9. Fulbright shut down this summer to receive infrastructure upgrades, but unexpected renovation problems caused delays.

“Basically, we’re getting paid to live in a hotel instead of our dorm. Especially since this hotel is probably nicer than our dorm, we’re kind of OK with that.”

Students found out last month that they would spend the first few weeks of the academic year living in the Renaissance or One Washington Circle hotel when officials notified them in an email that Fulbright required “additional work to the concrete foundation within the bathrooms beyond what had been initially planned for and projected,” according to a copy of the email obtained by The Hatchet.

But Sessler said the accommodations she has been given more than make up for the inconvenience she initially expected after receiving the email.

“I was a little shocked, a little bit angry, but then I saw that we were getting all sorts of perks, like extra money on our meal plan and free laundry and living in a nice hotel, so the anger very quickly subsided,” she said. “Now that I’m here, I’m realizing things could be a lot worse.”

Affected students are receiving an extra $175 in Colonial Cash, $100 to $300 in dining dollars based on the length of their stay, free Storage Squad packing – because hotels rooms weren’t big enough for students to bring all their belongings – and DormAid laundry delivery services, according to multiple students living in the hotels. They will also receive a 50 percent “nightly room housing credit” for the number of nights they stay at the hotel, according to the email.

University spokesperson Maralee Csellar said the perks were given to students to ensure they had similar services as students living in residence halls. She said the two hotels were chosen for their “proximity to campus and availability of rooms.”

She declined to say how much the University is spending to accommodate the students in the hotels or provide free laundry and storage services. She said the Renaissance gave student guests a GW-student-only lounge near the lobby.

“We understand that moving during the semester might be challenging for students,” Csellar said in an email. “Our goal during this temporary transition is to provide students with the same or similar services in the hotel that they would have if they were living in Fulbright Hall at no cost additional charge to these residents.”

Csellar declined to say why housing students in hotels was the best option while renovations continue or if the University arranged a deal to take in students for varying periods of time.

Sophomore Matilda Kreider, a Hatchet opinions writer who will live on the top floor of Fulbright and move in Sept. 16, said she began her stay at the One Washington Circle hotel Saturday – a seven-minute walk to Fulbright complete with a pool.

“Basically, we’re getting paid to live in a hotel instead of our dorm,” she said. “Especially since this hotel is probably nicer than our dorm, we’re kind of OK with that.”

Residents who were placed into Fulbright triples are now staying in rooms for two. Kreider said she is living with one of her roommates, while the other is staying in his own room.

One of her roommates even posted about the accommodations in GW’s student-run Facebook meme page, comparing the experience to the television show “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” – which details the lives of twins who live in a hotel. Kreider said it’s a fair assessment.

“It’s basically like living in a nicer dorm with a maid to clean it,” she said. “The maid kind of feels like our mom. She puts my shoes away and stuff like that.”

Justine Coleman contributed reporting.

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