Overcrowding forces UTC students to local hotel
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Daniel Knipp never dreamed dorm life would come with a housekeeper or a pool.
"Three weeks before moving in, I got the email and it said I was staying in a hotel," said Knipp, after returning from class.
Knipp is one of 180 UTC freshman living at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel.
A record breaking 12,100 students are enrolled this fall.
"It will be hard to tell until we have the final numbers, but it's somewhere between a three and five percent increase (over last year)," explained Chuck Cantrell, Associate Vice Chancellor and spokesperson for the school.
The construction-covered campus can't keep up with the surge of students. Cantrell calls it welcomed growing pains.
"We are adding students to classes, making classes a bit bigger, we are adding some classes here and there," said Cantrell. "We are still looking at trying to hire adjunct faculty to cover some areas."
Overcrowding has made scheduling difficult.
"I was trying to get into classes and they were filling up way too fast," said Alexandra Maynard, a junior from Knoxville. "I had to get overridden into two different classes, and then on my schedule a week ago I had different teachers than when I woke up this morning."
"I have an 8:00 class that ends at 8:50, and my next class isn't until 2:00," said Deondre Beaugard, a freshman from Memphis. "So, it's kind of spread out."
Parking is another challenge freshman Daniel Knipp wasn't expecting.
"I had to be up by 6:00 in the morning, and I was in the lot by 7:00 for an 8:00 class, just to get a spot," he explained.
Cantrell tells Channel 3, the university is working to find long term fixes, but he doesn't believe overcrowding will hurt retention.
"We have found that the students who live in the hotels, their class attendance, their grade point average, and their retention from fall to spring is essentially the same as the students who live on campus," he said.
Knipp plans to stay and chops it up to the college experience.
"I love the area, I love the academics they had to offer me," he said, heading into his hotel room, "it's good people so far, it's good company."
UTC has added about two dozen teaching positions, and hopes to build another residence hall in the near future.
University leaders are looking for property they can afford. Cantrell says construction will take time, meaning some students can expect another year in local hotels.