By Nathan Straus
Certain Lon Morris College students will not need bedding, miniature refrigerators or televisions. They won’t even need to clean their rooms. These students won’t stay in dormitory facilities this school semester, but rather, they will reside in specific Jacksonville motels.
Michael James, director of communications for the college, said this is part of an arrangement the college and two area motels have agreed on.
“We were originally looking at the numbers we had and realized we needed more room,” James stated.
The student population for Lon Morris has exploded this year with a record-shattering number of incoming freshmen. Over 600 students have registered for fall classes, which smashed the previous 1968 personal best by over 100 faces.
A problem associated with having more students, is the need for space to keep them in.
James said America’s Best Value Inn on Highway 79 and Trade Winds on Highway 69 contacted the LMC administration and the housing director to line up specifics. The students now in the rooms will occupy the motels for at least one semester.
He also noted when the motel rooms are compared with the dorm rooms and what all is required to bring them to a standard befitting a college student, those housed in the motels got the better side of the bargain.
After all, there’s something to be said about having one’s room cleaned up twice a week without having to lift a finger.
The communications director said students will have access to local cable channels on the televisions, as well as pool access.
America’s Best Value Inn holds around 170 students, while Trade Winds houses close to 60. Every room in each building has been booked throughout the semester.
“I’d imagine we were given discounts for booking the entire motel for so long,” James said.
David Gehrels, director of campus life, said the motel facilities are definitely very different from classic dormitory options.
“Students seem to be real happy about the option,” he added.
Each hotel facility is strictly a male-only housing option.
Other housing options include cottages, LMC-purchased houses remodeled as rental properties, and the upcoming Cooper House on College Avenue.
Credit for the enrollment boost is being partially given to new programs offered by Lon Morris such as football and cross country. In addition, a number of changes has been made to the school’s marketing efforts. Possibilities for new programs include dance, debate and agriculture.
A press release from college officials stated, “This is an exciting time for Lon Morris College, it’s students and the community. Increased enrollment allows the opportunity for growth and expansion. As the number of students on campus continue to grow, so will the number of programs, classes and buildings.”
The Jacksonville Daily Progress is currently investigating the hotel occupancy tax and how Jacksonville would benefit from Lon Morris’ use of the motels.
By Nathan Straus
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