Students OK to stay at hotel

NASHUA – Students from the University of Massachusetts Lowell will be bunking at the Radisson Hotel for another semester.

The university and the Nashua hotel came to an agreement last month to house about 200 students at the hotel for the spring semester, said Larry Siegel, dean of students for UMass Lowell.

Last fall, the college put up 240 students at the hotel after running out of room to house them on campus.

The agreement was only for the fall semester, but Siegel said last week there was still a need for additional housing for the spring semester.

“We renewed our contract in early December, which will take us from now through May of this year,” he said.

Siegel said there were about 200 students signed up to live at the hotel for the semester, but said that could grow before the semester starts Jan. 26.

Students first moved into the hotel in August and were given their own section of the hotel, away from the other guests.It was plush living for college

students when compared with most on-campus housing.

Students had private bathrooms, as well as access to the hotel pool and fitness center. Their rooms were cleaned on a weekly basis, including linen exchange.

The college provided a shuttle service to the campus 10 miles away. Siegel said that transportation would continue.

Living so far away from the campus became an issue for many students last semester, and about 15 students living in the hotel were moved on campus later in the semester, he said.

Siegel said the vast majority of students chose to stay in the hotel for another semester.

“They built a nice community,” he said. “They’ve gotten to like the students that are up there, and the Radisson has made them feel extremely welcome.”

Students were allowed to leave their belongings in the hotel over winter break, but couldn’t stay in the hotel.

Stephen Lambert, regional vice president of operations for the hotel, said in an e-mail that the students were well behaved during their stay last semester.

Like last semester, the hotel is charging the university for room and board at the same rate the university would charge students if they were staying on campus.

Room and board for the semester is $3,850 per student.

Siegel said the university kept in constant communication with students through the semester, asking them about any issues they were having. As a result, changes were made this year to the food plan to accommodate some issues.

Also, the university is creating a computer lab at the hotel. Siegel said the students were putting a drain on the hotel’s Internet service and the hope is adding more computers will help alleviate that.

Siegel said other than a response to a theft at the beginning of the year, the Nashua police didn’t have to respond to any other incidents at the hotel because of student behavior.

Siegel said he doubts that the university’s housing crunch will be solved by the next school year. Negotiations are going on for leasing and purchase opportunities, but nothing has been decided, he said.

“While not our desire, I certainly wouldn’t be shocked if we were back (at the Radisson) to some extent if we’re not able to find enough housing in this area,” he said.

Siegel said the university would decide by the end of the semester whether to continue housing students at the hotel, and at that point would negotiate for another semester, if necessary.