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RMU Students Are at Home at a Holiday Inn

Some Robert Morris University students have spent this academic year living at the Pittsburgh Airport Holiday Inn on University Boulevard.

Shawna Cisko, a student at , lives in what appears to be a typical college dorm room.

The sophomore education major's bedspread is pink and orange; her roommate's is a leopard print. Posters of the Colonials men's basketball team line the walls, taped up alongside photos of friends and family.

The only difference may be the locale: Cisko's room is about a mile down the road from RMU's campus, at the Pittsburgh Airport Holiday Inn.

"When I came back from Christmas break I had all these suitcases and boxes," she said. "The guy at the front desk was like, 'How long are you staying for?' "

Demand for on-campus housing has forced the university to lodge students off campus this year. Three floors of the Holiday Inn serve as student housing, costing the same $2,555-per-semester rate that other students pay to live on campus. They also get a free parking permit on campus and use of a shuttle bus that transports students to classes each day.

"It's a little hard if you're active on campus, but it’s nice because you have more room," Cisko said.

Cisko said the university contacted students before the fall semester to tell them that they'd be lodged in the hotel. Resident assistants live in the hotel with students, and campus police make nightly rounds there. Best of all, hotel staff removes trash and cleans bathrooms, said some students.

Senior communications major Kevin Williams is a resident assistant at the hotel. He said he enjoys having his own bathroom and using the hotel's fitness center and pool.

"Even though it's not as convenient as living on campus, I feel like living away from where you spend your typical working day is more conducive [to] an adult lifestyle," he said. "It's preparing us for after graduation."

He said each of the Holiday Inn student rooms is equipped with dresser and desk and two double beds, though some of the rooms have two single beds from RMU residence halls.

"I don't hate living here," he said. "There are some inconveniences, however. The Internet is sometimes slow, and it requires us to agree to the terms and agreements every day. The ability to quickly run some place like RoMo's is gone. It's much better to be here, though, than to not be in campus housing at all."

Liz Benigni, a sophomore English studies major, said the hotel is much quieter than living in a typical residence hall. Students have been asked to be conscientious and respectful of hotel guests.

"It's very hard when you don't have a car to plan events on campus or to make sure you're there on time for basketball games or if you work on campus," she said. "Because if you live on campus, you can just wake up, roll out of bed and go to classes. But when you live over here, you can't."

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