The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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The Comfort Suites hotel: A unique Bucknell living space?

Kelsey+Werkheiser%2C+Print+Managing+Editor+%2F+The+Bucknellian
Kelsey Werkheiser, Print Managing Editor / The Bucknellian

With Bucknell’s status as a residential university, students are required to live on campus during their four years here. While certain exceptions are made based on students’ age or situations, typically the only group of students living off campus are seniors; in their junior year, students are given the opportunity to apply for the chance to live in a Bucknell approved downtown house during their final year. 

This year, the university made a new option for a Bucknell off campus living space available. Before the start of the fall semester, students were told that the Comfort Suites hotel would be used for student housing. Located in Lewisburg and less than a mile from campus, the hotel housed over 55 students throughout the year. 

Before being converted to full time living for students, the hotel was used beginning in the 2020-2021 school year for various reasons, largely as Covid-19 quarantine housing. When symptomatic or positive for Covid, students would spend their quarantine in a Lewisburg hotel, the Comfort Suites being one. 

No longer having a constant need for quarantine spaces outside of dorms, Bucknell extended its use of the hotel. In December 2021, students were notified that the Comfort Suites would become a housing option for the Spring 2022 semester. Converting the hotel space to a student space guaranteed that all rooms were reserved by the school and not open to the public. This housing option was made available for all interested sophomores, juniors and seniors based on an interest form. 

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This 2023-2024 academic year marked the first full time and complete student use of the hotel as a residence hall. Speaking with students that have lived in the hotel, they discussed the differences that come from living off campus in a non-traditional dorm space. 

Emily Rivera ’25 is a Computer Science major and was a transfer student this fall. Briana Castro ’25 also transferred last semester and is now an English- Literary Studies major. Rivera is the Vice President and Castro is the current Co-Treasurer of the Bucknell University Student Transfer Association. They both shared their experience coming to Bucknell and living in the hotel. 

Previous to this year the only on campus experience the students had were six-weeks living in Roberts Hall as Rivera and Castro were on campus for the Bucknell Community College Scholars Program during the summer. After seven months Rivera said she would like to return to the hotel if it is offered for the upcoming school year while Castro hopes to move on campus. 

The style and amenities of a hotel student room act as the biggest differences from on campus housing. Describing their space, students shared that rooms have a small “kitchen” area, a living room space, full bathroom and bedroom area. “Kitchen” space in the room provides students with a mini fridge and microwave to use. The rooms also contain a king-size bed, two desks, a TV, a couch, bedside tables and a coffee table. 

Castro described the room as a, “small studio apartment without having a kitchen.” Commenting on the layout and different aspects of the room, Castro noted that, “There’s a comfortable couch and there’s a wall that separates the ‘living room’ from the ‘bedroom’. I really enjoy this space and it’s my favorite place in the room. I do most of my homework here.”

Standout differences from campus housing are both the size of bed and a private bathroom. A select few of the rooms on campus offer single private bathrooms and the only bed size offered on campus is a Twin XL. Rivera noted the positives regarding the comfort of the bed and space that she has in her hotel room. Expanding on this, Castro shared, “The bathroom is a really good size, I have room for all my skincare, cleaning supplies, toiletries, etc. I even had space to decorate it and make it feel like my own. The shower is in the form of a tub which I love since I could take baths to wind down.” Castro continued later to explain that the private bathroom and having her own space are her favorite parts about the hotel. 

Hotel room amenities compared to those on campus are also some of the benefits that come from living in the hotel. While enjoying the hotel space and wanting to return, Rivera also noted the changes and improvements that could be made for Comfort Suite residents. 

Due to the location of the hotel and having to cross Route 15, Riviera noted transportation as one of the larger obstacles for her and her peers in the hotel. While Bucknell provides a shuttle service for students, Rivera explained the troubles that still occur with getting to campus. “My classes start at 9 am. I am lucky enough to have a car but not everyone does,” Rivera shared. “At the beginning of the fall semester I, along with my friends, reached out to request better transportation. I was basically told that there would not be enough interest to justify starting the shuttle earlier. I was also told to take a shuttle at 7:45 for my 9 am class. Several students cannot even use the shuttle and have to drive. That causes a whole other issue then because parking on campus is horrendous.” As students in the Comfort Suites do not have a traditional downtown walk from off campus or a tunnel under Route 15 like West Campus students utilize, getting to campus appears to be one of the more difficult aspects. 

Agreeing that improvements could be made for the hotel living arrangements, Castro shared her experience with transportation struggles. “It feels as if I’m very far away from Bucknell. I can’t drive so I always have to rely on someone else which can be very stressful and complicated. It can be hard to attend events,” Castro said. She continued with her experience saying, “During the fall semester they had a shuttle that only ran every hour and to get back to the hotel from Bucknell we had to make multiple stops to downtown, Giant, the bookstore, etc. We had to fight really hard to get better transportation.” 

Aside from transportation, a consensus from the students included difficulties they experienced with wifi and the effects of this on their school work. Rivera explained that the wifi often cuts out making it difficult to complete work online. Castro shared that it, “causes me to stay on campus until nighttime in order to get my homework done and ask a friend to come pick me up.”

Hotel students also commented on their lack of access to a kitchen and laundry. Both students agreed that they would benefit from having the ability to cook. There was also a consensus for desiring a communal kitchen like what is found in a typical Bucknell dorm. In addition, there only being one dryer and washer for all the students seemed to be a concern and recurring issue. 

With both pros and cons, the hotel has provided students with a unique space and amenities that most on campus spaces cannot offer. If the hotel housing continues, like many on campus dorms, students have identified potential ideas and areas for improvement based upon their personal experiences. 

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