By Kelli Sharpe
NASHVILLE, TN — Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover spent the night at one of the university’s off-campus housing facilities over the weekend to ease concerns regarding safety and quality of rooms. President Glover helped to check students in at the Best Western and later checked in herself. The hotel is one of six locations the University is using for overflow housing and has already housed 5,000 students on and off campus.
“I would not put students in a place I would not be willing to stay myself,” said President Glover. “While I wish my stay could have been longer, we needed the bed for a student.”
Rising senior Derrion Boyce said this is his first time staying at a hotel throughout his TSU journey and he’s satisfied with his room assignment. The electrical engineering major, from Chicago is housed at the Best Western.
“I was able to move into my hotel room in a timed ordinarily fashion, everything was clean and up to par. Also, they have brought over food and a school supply kit to us since I been there.”
Sophomore Laila Spencer said she had reservations about being at one of the off-campus housing facilities but was pleasantly surprised when she arrived at her room at Candlewood Suites.
“I wanted to be on campus because everything is easy to get to and convenient, but with the lack of on campus housing I was put into Candlewood,” said the Memphis native and agriculture major.
“My parents had their concerns with being at a hotel, but the room has been nice. It was a pleasant surprise to have so many amenities onsite.”
TSU began housing students on August 15 and will continue to do so until all off-campus housing facilities are filled. The University is facing an unprecedented demand for on campus housing due to a large incoming freshmen class, projected at over 2,500 first-year students, and the high cost of housing in Nashville.
Because of the latter, an unusually high number of upperclassmen have requested on-campus housing because they cannot afford to live in the City.
“The demand for housing is related largely to Nashville’s increased cost of living and prevents many of our students from living off campus,” said Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Frank Stevenson.
“Staff has been committed to implementing a workable solution to meet the demand for TSU housing and have assigned rooms to all upperclassmen who have paid a deposit. However, we also understand everyone is not happy about the arrangements.”
Stevenson noted that parents have voiced concerns regarding safety and the quality of some of the rooms.
Naomi Taylor, a sophomore, had issues with her room at the Ramada Inn, but said they were resolved right away.
“I am content with my stay here. It’s not too bad. I would’ve liked to stay on campus, so I could be a part of it, but I prefer this over the dorms,” Taylor said.
“The move in experience was a little hectic, at first they put us in a room that was already occupied but they resolved it. When we got here the shower drain would fill over and we told the front desk about it and they fixed it. Then the toilet wouldn’t flush properly so we had to tell the front desk and they’re fixing it right now.”
Stevenson added, “Any concern regarding the condition of a room is being addressed immediately whether on campus or at an off-campus housing facility. Hotel management is expected to resolve all issues right away upon notification at our off-campus sites.”
Stevenson said student safety is a top priority on and off campus and a comprehensive 24- hour security plan has been implemented for each off-campus location.
“TSUPD, Metro Police, armed and unarmed security personnel, along with residence hall staff will monitor the inside and perimeter of all off-campus housing as they have in the past. It is our hope that these intentional safety measures will bring a level of comfort to our students and parents.”
President Glover said she understands the frustration from many students and parents as the University worked to process the large demand for housing and their patience is greatly appreciated.
“Many universities across the country and even here in Tennessee are experiencing the same demand for campus housing. Some sent students homes without any options. We provided our students with options because we know many of them will not come without a place to stay. TSU students could attend online for free if they paid a deposit or live in off-campus housing.”
Some parents have also voiced concerns regarding the cost for off campus housing. The university said it will continue to assess the financial needs of students and take the necessary steps to give them the best off-campus housing experience, including shuttle service, extended library hours, along with on-site meals and activities.
The president went on to say that the University will use the off-campus housing facilities for the fall and spring semester as a short-term option but is already looking to expand the campus housing inventory. This will be crucial if both enrollment trends and the cost of living in Nashville continue to increase.
“TSU is working closely with appropriate state agencies to add more residence halls on our campus, hopefully starting next year to address our future housing needs. We are excited that this is the largest first-year class in the history of TSU. This growth is quite positive for TSU as more and more students seek to attend our university.”