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Displaced San Jose State Students Protest Housing Policy

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) - A group of San Jose State University students upset over a school housing policy that plucked more than 200 students from their dorm rooms and moved them into an off-campus hotel to make way for an unexpected surge of incoming freshmen protested through campus Monday.

Students for Quality Education, which focuses on accessible and affordable education for California State University students, is organizing the demonstration.

Alyx Goodwin, a third-year journalism student and member of the group, said a number of the students taking part are among those who were evicted from their dorms and moved to the Clarion Hotel, more than two miles from campus.

The university sent out letters in July notifying 250 returning students that they would be displaced from their on-campus dorms and moved into a hotel, a decision based on a policy adopted by the university last year that requires all incoming freshmen who live more than 30 miles away to live on campus their first year.

But what SJSU did not anticipate was a surge of roughly 4,000 freshmen this fall—compared with last year's roughly 2,700 students—the biggest freshman class the university has had in 10 years, said Pat Lopes Harris, a university spokeswoman.

To meet the demand, the university initially tried assigning three students to some of the larger dorm rooms, but when that did not resolve the problem, the school began to consider alternatives. After seeing that other universities were using hotels to house students, SJSU housing staff began considering that option.

Of the 245 displaced students, 90 opted to live in the hotel, while the rest decided they would rather sleep on couches in their friends' dorms or search at the last minute for an apartment close to campus.

The displaced students were promised a safe, "resort-style" business-class hotel with Wi-Fi in each room and within walking or light-rail distance. But Goodwin said the experience of some of the students has been the opposite.

The hotel rooms are smaller and more cramped than the dorm rooms, she said. The lighting in the hotel rooms isn't bright, and the Wi-Fi is "minimal to horrible," she said.

Even worse, Goodwin said, public transportation is two blocks away and the hotel is in an area that isn't as safe as the university has claimed, which she said is an inconvenience and a safety concern for students with night classes.

She said a friend of hers recently complained to her about being followed to her hotel room one night.

These issues could have been avoided had the SJSU administration planned better, said Goodwin.

Goodwin said the students protesting today want to send a loud message to the administration.

"We really hope that a policy like this never happens again."

The protest was schedule for 4 p.m. in front of Clark Hall.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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