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Ohio University Housing Students at Water Park

An Ohio university found a unique solution to its housing crunch when it partnered with a local water park and resort to house students for the first few weeks of the upcoming academic year.

Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, will be housing 30 underclassmen at the Fort Rapids Indoor Water Park and Resort, about five miles from campus. The plan is a solution to the dilemma presented by a larger incoming freshman class this fall, and a high number of students who wish to remain in the on-campus residence halls.

"A lot of schools will add beds to existing spaces, and to lounges," Capital University spokeswoman Nichole Johnson told ABCNews.com. "I think anyone who has lived in a residence hall knows space is already limited. We didn't think that was the right solution for our students."

The undergraduate population at Capital University has gone from 2,221 to an estimated 2,320 students this fall, according to data provided by the university.

The university has an ongoing relationship with the water park and resort, which has housed members of visiting sports teams over the years, Johnson said. The resort houses 277 guest rooms and 60 luxurious suites.

"They're used to working with the college population, with our past experience," Johnson said. "They were willing to help us, and convert those spaces."

Plans for conversion of the spaces include moving dormitory furniture into the suites, along with any other necessities, such as desks. A resident assistant will also be on site at Fort Rapids, as will a staff member from the Residence and Community department.

"They'll have regular meetings and special programming to create a community there, and to make the best of the situation," Johnson said. "No one is saying that this is the best thing in the world, but our goal is to get everybody on campus as soon as possible."

The majority of those who will be housed at Fort Rapids will be sophomores, according to Johnson, and no incoming freshman will be placed there. Roommate set-ups are based on a survey students filled out prior to a housing lottery, and friends being housed at Fort Rapids can ask to live together, Johnson said.

The solution is only temporary, Johnson says, as within a few weeks of classes starting, the university expects to see space open up on campus. After the add/drop period, when students select classes, and as students' living plans change, the university expects about 60 spaces to open up on campus, Johnson said.

And yes, while living at Fort Rapids, students will have access to the water park. They'll also be allotted two meal vouchers to be used at the park and resort's dining facility, and will be shuttled to campus - about a 10 minute drive, depending on traffic.

"Once people get over the initial surprise, there are a lot of people who say 'where do I sign up?'" Johnson said. "If people are appalled by this, we're going to work with them. Capital University is the type of school that does everything on an individual basis."

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