The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Student enrollment increase causes problems for some

Mariel Alanis shares her space with seven other people Tuesday August 23, 2016. With so many people, privacy can be a potential problem. (The Daily Iowan/Vivian Le)

By Naomi Hofferber 

[email protected]

For the largest freshman class that the University of Iowa has welcomed, finding housing options for incoming students has been a challenge. While the university has limited the number of returning students who can live in the dormitories, as of Aug. 24, 186 UI students are living in “expanded housing” (formerly called temporary housing) in dormitory lounges. Housing available for students is determined not only by Living Learning Communities but also by the dates of application, UI officials say.

“We pull students out … the same way, based on when you submitted your application,” said Virginia Ibrahim-Olin, the UI Housing & Dining assistant director for contracts & assignments. “It’s also affected based on space that we have available and Living Learning Communities.”

Students in such “expanded housing” live in groups of four, six, or eight, typically in the lounge areas of dorms, in which the doors have locks. Each individual is given a bed and her or his own space, and the room is furnished with items to try to make the rooms more comfortable.

Because housing is decided by the date of application, and the applications of international students can take longer to process, a portion of international students end up in “expanded housing.”

“When we are making assignments, always we still go based on the date that someone has applied, so there might be actually a whole batch of international students who applied later,” Ibrahim-Olin said. “However, either based on [Living Learning] eligibility or based on our ‘expanded’ lounges, what we will do is we will spread students out throughout a variety of lounges. So there may be a larger portion of international students who wind up in ‘expanded housing’ in proportion to the overall campus.”

The UI faces an interesting challenge with housing this year, with the largest freshman class the school has seen, the destruction of the Quadrangle dorm, and the new Madison Street dorm still under construction.

Ibrahim-Olin said University Housing & Dining takes numerous things into consideration while determining assignments in “expanded housing,” trying to integrate domestic and international students in lounges across campus. However, international students can potentially face difficulties that domestic students do not.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had some domestic students who have not been as welcoming to their international Hawkeyes, and we have heard some hateful things kind of be said about that, so we want to be thoughtful and try to set everyone up for success,” Ibrahim-Olin said.

Aside from intolerance from domestic students, international students and domestic students also can face challenges with this sort of housing, because they can’t move as many belongings in as students in double or triple rooms.

“It’s kind of not that convenient because … I couldn’t buy something really [big]. It’s not convenient at all,” Justin Hu said, a freshman student from the south of China, staying in such housing in a lounge of Daum. Hu said although his support system is far away, it has not been too difficult for him.

Ibrahim-Olin said although such temporary housing can seem negative, benefits can arise from it.

“We know that folks really tend to have a pretty good experience. We wouldn’t have continued to do it if it wasn’t a positive experience,” Ibrahim-Olin said. “We often hear that while it’s different from what they’ve originally envisioned, with maybe one or two roommates, they tend to make friends and have connections with people kind of all over campus instead of just their little unit that they experience every day. There are some positive things going on with ‘expanded,’ too.”

Chen Lu, a student from Shanghai, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan that although it’s a challenge that she cannot move in larger items of furniture or have a lot of storage for winter gear, she says of her experience, “It was uncomfortable,  but now I pretty much like it.”

More to Discover