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No room for new inn

Staff Editorial | Friday, August 25, 2006

Saint Mary’s women are fiercely proud of their school.

So proud that they will immediately defend the institution – ranked No. 1 by U.S. News & World Report among 107 Midwest Comprehensive Colleges – against any perceived outside threat to the College’s way of life.

In this case, that outside threat hits a little too close to home – literally. The 100 to 125-unit Hilton Garden Inn Hotel planned to be built just northeast of campus has stirred debate among Saint Mary’s students.

And rightfully so.

Only 1,500 women attend Saint Mary’s. Any construction right off campus will significantly impact such a small, close-knit community. Especially when the end result of that construction will be a hotel open to a very large – and unknown – community.

The idea of a hotel in close proximity to Saint Mary’s campus is not unprecedented. After all, the Inn at Saint Mary’s takes in thousands of guests each football season. But given its nearness to the popular on-campus Opus apartments, another hotel is one too many.

Keeping students safe is an issue that will be difficult for the College to closely monitor if the 100-plus rooms overflow with guests.

In addition to the safety concerns the hotel will raise, there’s also the physical campus to consider. The beauty of Saint Mary’s is striking. The idea of a Hilton planted in that idyllic setting is off-putting.

College President Carol Ann Mooney defends the right of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross to manage the land. But there are ways for the Congregation to advance its mission while keeping students in mind.

The College is grounded in 162 years of tradition, tradition that stems from its founders, the Sisters of the Holy Cross.

Those sisters envisioned a serene campus to allow women from all over the world to grow intellectually and spiritually, but a piece of this dream is lost with the construction of a chain hotel on campus borders.

Anyone who has attended the College – or simply set foot on campus – knows the beauty associated with Saint Mary’s far exceeds the benefits of a Hilton Garden Inn Hotel.