Taylor Place overbooked, up to 120 students to temporarily live at local hotel

Taylor Place (Evie Carpenter/DD)
The Taylor Place residence hall at the Downtown campus was overbooked by about 10 percent as of Wednesday. As many as 120 students will be without dormitories and instead stay at the Westin Phoenix Downtown Hotel with professional staff for up to two weeks as rooms become available. (Evie Carpenter/DD)

As many as 120 students registered to live at Taylor Place this fall will be without dormitories and instead will live in a nearby hotel to start the school year.

This is the first time since opening in 2008 that Taylor Place will be at maximum capacity. As of Wednesday, the residence hall was overbooked by about 10 percent.

Students are expected to stay at the Westin Phoenix Downtown Hotel on Van Buren Street and Central Avenue for up to two weeks with professional staff and possibly student community assistants staying at the hotel with them.

ASU administrators said that overflow at Taylor Place is a good problem, showing that interest in the Downtown campus is growing.

Last year, Taylor Place was slightly under capacity, and administrators agreed that it is better to have an excess of students than to leave some beds empty.

“The numbers are higher than in the past, and we’re excited about that as a university,” said Cory Shapiro, assistant director of Residential Life.

But the uncertainty has caused ASU officials, students and parents alike to worry about the first couple of weeks of school for the overbooked students and support staff.

As of Monday, administrators said, there were about 100 incoming freshmen and 20 upperclassmen who weren’t expected to have rooms in Taylor Place. The number of students was as high as 150 last week.

ASU Housing doesn’t have an up-to-date count of how many students will have to live in the hotel because students who are registered for housing but elected to not come to ASU are being removed from the system daily.

“The number has continued to change a little bit because we have been finding student spaces every day,” Shapiro said.

“But, then, students are not done filling out applications either,” he added.

There is also a waiting list for Taylor Place, which ASU Housing hasn’t decided how to address yet, Shapiro said.

The introduction this year of “super single” rooms in Taylor Place Tower I reduced the number of available beds. Students were given the option to pay about $1,700 more to rent a room that would normally hold two people.

Despite the space crunch, Taylor Place will honor these agreements, Shapiro said. But if a student in one of these rooms drops out, the room will be reverted to its two-person setup.

Overflow is a common issue at the Tempe campus, ASU officials said. On the Downtown campus, ASU Housing is utilizing a similar plan to handle the overflow as it has on the Tempe campus: posting professional staff members and community assistants in hotels with the overflow students for a few weeks at most until all are moved into permanent dorms.

“As cancellations come in, we will assign students to a permanent location within Taylor Place,” Director of Residential Life Kendra Hunter said in an email. “This is not a new process at ASU.”

Downtown community coordinator Irma Canseco volunteered to live in the hotel. Shapiro didn’t know which community assistants would join her but said that decision would be made in the coming weeks.

Canseco declined to comment for this article.

It is unknown when Downtown campus administrators recognized that Taylor Place would experience an overflow, but poor communication among departments left some blindsided by the problem.

Mary Cook, director of student success at the Walter Cronkite School, first heard about the overflow when the parents of two incoming freshmen emailed her July 25 worried about the housing situation.

Cook inadvertently shared incorrect information about Taylor Place’s housing situation at freshmen orientation prior to getting those emails.

Cook passed the information to Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School and vice provost of the Downtown campus. According to Cook, Callahan hadn’t been told, either, and immediately asked Downtown Dean of Students Georgeana Montoya to update him on the overflow situation.

Callahan’s secretary directed questions to Montoya, who didn’t return calls or emails seeking comment. An additional email to Callahan was not returned.

ASU sent an email to overflow students Tuesday explaining the situation and what they can expect at move-in and in the days following. The email said ASU will be doing what it can to make the overflow students’ experience comparable to that of students who start the year in the residence hall.

Journalism junior and first-year Taylor Place resident Amanda LaCasse said the biggest issue for her would be moving multiple times in the first weeks.

“I feel like it’s rather rude to tell students, ‘Oh, by the way, we’re going to house you here for a couple weeks and then you’ll have to move all of your stuff right after you get settled in,’” she said.

LaCasse signed up for housing on one of the Cronkite School’s residential floors the day after the deadline two weeks ago, but she was still assigned a room.

ASU guarantees housing on campus to all incoming freshmen but not upperclassmen.

Other than moving multiple times, LaCasse said it wouldn’t be a big deal for her to temporarily live in the hotel.

“It’s kind of strange that ASU Downtown only has one dorm,” LaCasse said, compared with Tempe, where there are multiple residence halls across the campus. “I definitely think it’s time for ASU to build more housing Downtown.”

Contact the reporter at connor.radnovich@asu.edu