Opinion | UI students should consider dorms beyond their first year

Dorms provide a welcoming atmosphere for returning students, but most do not return.


Currier Residence Hall is seen on August 30, 2020.

Signe Nettum, Opinions Contributor

In October of my freshman year at the University of Iowa, a friend asked me if I had found an apartment for the next school year. I stared at her, dumbfounded. We were barely two months into the first year of college. Why would I focus on the next year already?

What I did not know was that students scooped up apartments around campus early in the year, leaving just scraps around spring semester. I talked to my parents about the prospects of living in an apartment, and how I felt pressured to live in an apartment my sophomore year when I did not feel ready to make that change.

In the end, I stayed in a residence hall my second year, and I am forever thankful I made that choice. Dorms are a welcoming place for returning students, and more should take advantage of the opportunity.

I ended up rooming with a friend of mine in a double room in Stanley Residence Hall. We found more benefits in living in the dorms, rather than finding an apartment with possible strangers.

The UI has four different communities on campus in the dorms: Living Learning Communities, Honors, New Students, and Returning Students. I first lived on the Iowa Writers floor — one of the Living Learning Communities — my freshman year, and then transferred to Returning Students my sophomore year. They offer a floor-wide class that is automatically assigned to your schedule and offer monthly events themed around the community.

I enjoyed the fact that everyone on my floor had the shared experience of being a returning student, whether it was their second or their fourth year on campus. Our Resident Assistant was a senior and knew how to tackle any issues on the floor.

My roommate and I could enjoy the workout room, the printing area, and the comfy study lounge without leaving the building — we all know how brutal those winter winds can be in February.

A major benefit of the dorms is how well kept they are. If I have to make a maintenance call, it is very easy. The lounges and bathrooms are constantly cleaned by custodial staff. I practically lived in the lounge because it was comfy and clean. Instead of having to focus on cleaning an entire apartment, all I needed to focus on was my shared room.

In my current living situation in my apartment, the doors do not fit right on their hinges, and I am currently struggling with a mouse problem. I have had those issues since I moved in. Whereas in the dorm, I noticed our wall unit allowed a breeze in, and the maintenance staff came by that day and completely replaced and reinforced it.

While some may think that it does not have amenities like a working kitchen, Petersen Hall has a shared kitchen, and Mayflower Hall has shared kitchens between two rooms.

I lived in one of the no-kitchen dorms on campus. An old friend of mine lived in Mayflower and could explore cooking while having the cushion of a meal plan in case recipes did not always work out to his benefit. My roommate and I discovered many microwave meals that filled the cracks left in our meal plans.

When COVID-19 rolled around and our spring break was extended, I did not worry about all of the things I left in my dorm. I knew that they were protected and would be waiting for me when I returned to pack it all up.

Looking back, as I am about to graduate, I will forever thank myself for living another year in the dorms. It provided comfort in a tumultuous world.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.