University of Alberta launches hostel program for commuter students
'There’s a need for it on campus,' residence supervisor says
A new hostel at the University of Alberta is taking students off couches and putting them into beds.
The Commuter Study Hostel located on campus has 14 single rooms for students to rent out for a rest or a late-night study binge.
The rooms in the university's Schaffer Hall and Lister Centre include everything a student needs for a productive night, including a desk, a bed, Wi-Fi and even access to a shower. For the social butterfly, there's also a communal area where students can watch TV and cook dinner.
"There's a need for it on campus," Meghan Reiser, the supervisor for residence life at Lister Centre, told CBC News.
The rooms are meant for students that have a long commute to campus, Reiser said, especially when the roads get icy or dangerous during the winter.
"We saw a lot of students sleeping on couches, so this is a response to that."
Students interested in booking a room need to pay the $35 fee up front, show a valid student card and make a reservation before 5 p.m for the night they want to stay.
The University of Alberta is just the latest university to open a commuter hostel.
Reiser said the residence group based the idea on Ryerson University's hostel program in Toronto, which also offers rooms for $35 and provides students with the same amenities.
The centre had a soft launch in September and already saw students booking rooms for the night, although the residence service has not counted how many students have come through the door.
Reiser said they are expecting an uptick in popularity as exams, final projects and winter storms continue to roll in.
Mixed reactions from students
Alisha Whissell, a fourth-year psychology student, read up on the program Thursday night during a late study binge. She said she's not convinced students will use the rooms.
"I think it's kind of a waste of space," she said.
Whissell said that for anyone like her, who lives off money made doing summer jobs and anything left over from student loans, the cost of the rooms is too high.
"Thirty-five dollars is a large amount you can use for food," she said.
Kelsey Dawson, a recent U of A graduate, had a different opinion. She said in a Facebook message that she "loved" the project and thought it was convenient for students who need a place to crash.
Reiser said she isn't surprised that students have mixed responses to the project.
"Our intention was to make that cost as low as possible to make sure it was [as] accessible as possible for students," Reiser said.
So far, the commuter hostel is a pilot project for this school year, but Reiser said they might continue the program if it's popular with students.