NCCU students forced into hotel

DURHAM "The good news is that enrollment is growing at NC Central University," Residential Life Director Jennifer Wilder told Eyewitness News. "The bad news for upperclassmen is that this means that they need to move off campus so we can accommodate our freshman and our sophomores on campus."

About 300 more freshmen than expected enrolled for the fall. To make room for them in university housing, 300 upperclassmen and graduate students are learning they will have to stay at the Millennium Hotel in Durham -- more than five miles from campus.

The school began notifying students last week.

"The main frustration is the late notice, but we couldn't tell them until we actually had a place that we could use to accommodate our students," Wilder said.

Officials say the school knew there would be a housing crunch in June but being a state institution, Central had to have an open bidding process as it looked for extra rooms.

The Millennium was chosen and a contract was finalized in late July.

As if living in the hotel far from campus and finding out at the last minute wasn't enough, some students say the university added insult to injury. Some students have to pay $600 more per semester to live in the hotel rather than university housing.

That's what a rising senior told Eyewitness News as he waited for a shuttle to take him from the hotel to campus. He did not want to go on camera.

Athletes and honors students are the only upperclassmen who will stay on campus.

"The honors program has some things that go on on campus -- seminars and things -- that they need to be close proximity to campus, and for our athletes, when they travel, the ability to be able to get home you know when they get home a two or three o clock in the morning," Wilder explained.

Students who are not affected understand the frustration.

"After you already have your financial aid taken care of that would be a problem, trying to come up with the money at the last minute," sophomore Tiara Kincaid said.

Officials say many students will pay less for the hotel rooms, but they concede the situation isn't fair. Some students are already living at the Millennium. The official campus move-in day is Thursday, and classes begin August 17.

According to the university, while at the hotel, students will be separated from other hotel guests for their own security.

In 2003, students lived in the Millennium and other hotels after toxic mold forced them to stay away from their dorms just as classes were getting set to begin.

A new dorm is under construction that will have 525 beds , but it's not set to open until August of 2011.

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