USFSP students relocate to Hilton hotel due to overcrowding

Increase in enrollment at USFSP has resulted in overflow housing at the nearby Hilton Bayfront Hotel.

Seventy-eight students, including 26 freshmen, at USF St. Petersburg are currently living at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel for a semester, rather than on campus. 

Jacob Diaz, dean of students and director of housing at USFSP, said this move was a result of increase in enrollment this fall. The Hilton Bayfront was chosen to provide overflow housing because it was previously used for the same purpose in 2012 and is close to campus. 

“This is a temporary solution,” Diaz said. “As the university continues to grow, the student population will likely grow as well.”

USFSP’s plan, which includes the construction of additional residence halls, will be presented at the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting. It discusses future enrollment and facility needs and authorizes development. It also includes plans to create additional parking spaces.

This will help USFSP’s goal of enrolling 10,000 students in 10 years. In the 2014-15 academic year, there were 3,843 students enrolled at USFSP. 

While Diaz said new freshmen would ideally live on campus, those residing at the Hilton Bayfront are a blend of both upperclassmen and freshmen. Diaz said this was due to an effort to accommodate requests throughout the summer to house incoming freshmen.

Students living at the hotel have access to all hotel amenities, such as the pool, room service, weekly linen changes and trash removal, which are not available in on-campus housing. Diaz said student feedback had reflected that students enjoy access to these amenities.

The cost of living at the Hilton comes to $4,984 which is almost $1,000 more than the most expensive dorms on campus, a four-person apartment style suite in Residence Hall One at $3,922 a semester. A two-person studio in Residence Hall One is the cheapest housing provided by USFSP at $3,174. 

Oliver Dennis, a junior majoring in chemistry at USF, said he would prefer the option of living at the Hilton. 

“The facilities would be nicer for the updated price,” Dennis said. “It would also probably be calmer, easier to study at and have less tolerance for parties.” 

Named Residence Hall Hilton, the hotel houses two students in “2 Double Beds” rooms, so each resident has a roommate and a full-size bed.

Rooms include a 42-inch TV and mini-fridge, and there are two resident assistants also residing at the Hilton.

“We entered into an arrangement with them to provide overflow housing, and thankfully we did because we had students who were requesting housing who would otherwise have to get an apartment nearby,” Diaz said.

Grace Cook, a junior majoring in sociology, said living in a hotel would not be preferable to living in a dorm room.

“Even though it sounds great with having a maid come in and being able to use the amenities, I wouldn’t choose it because it would be antisocial,” Cook said.

According to the USFSP website, “Residence Hall Hilton is mostly used for overflow housing of upperclassmen.”

Those interested in living there are encouraged to contact the USFSP housing department.