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Alumni Can Relive Glory Days With Arts Fest Stay in Penn State Dorm

by on July 07, 2014 6:15 AM

Once again, Penn State alumni can relive the good old days of dorm life this Arts Fest.

The Penn State Alumni Association worked with Residence Life to offer on-campus lodging during the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, hosted on campus and downtown State College from July 9-13.

Hamilton building in West Halls is open to alumni this year. That means anyone who lived in Hamilton can sleep in their old room again, although requests are not guaranteed.

Roger Williams, executive director of the Alumni Association, says this program targets families of young alumni. As they are often busy with their careers and families, young alumni are not as connected to their Alma Mater. This program is a way to draw alumni back.

"Although people of all ages take part in it, it's something we try to do to reach those in their 20s and 30s and 40s with young kids," Williams says.

At $52 for a single room and $92 for a double, the price is hard to beat for any alumnus craving the familiarity of a Twin XL bed. Guests will be provided linens, a blanket, towel, wash cloth and bar of soap, as well as a complimentary breakfast at Waring Commons.

A cot may be requested for children under 18. To accommodate a third person in a double occupancy dorm room, one rollaway cot may be added. A cot will not be added to any single dorm rooms.

Williams says the capacity of Hamilton Hall is 621 people. More than 430 have already signed up this year, making it likely to beat last year's final total of 492.

"We have grandparents taking their families -- we have single people doing this," Williams says. "But the bulk of registrants is alumni with kids. A lot of the motivation is to see what it was like when they were in college."

Many bring their children to preview what life as a student would be like. That was the case for Virginia Ernst, Class of 1961, who brought her three children to stay in the dorms. All three ended up attending Penn State.

Ernst and her husband have participated in the program for the past 35 years.

"We love Penn State. We love coming back," Ernst says. "It was fun staying in the dorms because our kids got a kick out of it. We do too."

This year, Ernst's daughter and her husband will also come, bringing with them their 12-year-old twins. With a chuckle, Ernst says she wouldn't be surprised if her grandchildren will one day attend Penn State.

Not even the warm nights are a deterrent for Ernst. She says she loves eating in the dining commons, interacting with students and showing her family what her life at Penn State is like.

Ernst enjoys the nostalgia of staying in the dorms. It allows her to remember the memories from her time as a student.

Hamilton Hall is not air-conditioned so the Alumni Association is advising all guests to bring a fan. A limited number of fans are available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Alumni Association distributed a survey two years ago to ask alumni if they prefer the dorm program be offered in North Halls because it's air conditioned. The majority response, Williams says, was to keep it in West Halls.

Registration closes on July 7 at midnight. To register for the dorm program, click HERE. Walk-ins will be accepted but an extra fee will be charged.

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Jessica Tully recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in journalism and political science. She is a frequent contributor to and has also reported for USA TODAY, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Onward State and The Daily Collegian.
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