Photos by Noah Lenhart. Leased buildings at Red Lion Hotel offer new opportunities for student housing.

By Jessica Nunes

One of the most prominent changes at Northwest University for the 2020-2021 school year is the implementation of new facilities for student housing. Due to new COVID-19 health and safety policies, on-campus housing was reduced to single occupancy dorm rooms throughout much of Guy, Perks and Crowder (GPC) halls and Gray-Beatty halls. With residence halls that typically average a 98 percent occupancy level reduced to 50 percent capacity, the University faced a dramatic housing crisis. The solution to the on-campus housing crisis was announced in an email from Rick Engstrom on July 1 and included leasing buildings from the Red Lion Hotel in Bellevue, Wash. and transforming the new space into suitable student housing.

Northwest is providing community among the students during this difficult time by finding accommodations for everyone, which leads to the concept of hotel living. The University continues to manage NU housing at the Red Lion Hotel and provides on-site meal plans through the hotel’s restaurant. Resident Assistants (RAs) were also moved into the hotel to assist with meeting student needs; Red Lion Hotel RAs include Robert Vinje, Zach Shelton, Alissa Accetturo and Sarah Strenge. In the email, Engstrom went on the express NU’s commitment to providing the best possible experience to students while navigating the effects of COVID-19.

“We are committed to making the best possible living experience for all students—on campus or at the Red Lion Hotel,” Engstrom said.

At the Red Lion Hotel, students enjoy more space, their own private bathroom, air conditioning units and larger desks and chairs. Additionally, students have access to many of the amenities associated with downtown living such as access to shops and fine dining; Woods Coffee, Azteca, Pagliacci Pizza and The Bellden Cafe are some of the best places to eat and catch up with friends.

Junior Nicola Fish said, “there are restaurants around that will satisfy anyone’s cravings and the mall is within walking distance.”

Students have experienced an assortment of challenges while adjusting to hotel living such as increased gas expenses from commuting to campus, limited food options in a smaller on-site cafeteria, and a perceived disconnect in the typical community life experience. Alongside these challenges, it is important to remember that we always have the choice to make the best out of difficult situations.

“Living in the hotel has been such a blessing since it has given me a new environment after what has been such a mundane few months. I had already experienced the dorms and the apartments, so it was an exciting change coming to the hotel,” junior Amber Tighe said.

The changes to our community and student life is something that will not only challenge us as followers of Christ but also allow us to work in ways we could not have foreseen.

“We invite you to also join us in making the best of this present situation and allowing God to use 2020-2021 as a year of meaningful growth, learning, and community despite the changes or perceived challenges,” Engstrom said in his July 1 email.