University of Iowa reopens Parklawn Residence Hall with increased housing demand

Thousands of University of Iowa students moved into campus residence halls for the 2022-2023 academic year.


Isabella Cervantes

Students are seen moving into Parklawn Residence Hall in Iowa City on Monday, Aug. 11, 2022.

DI Staff

Thousands of Hawkeye students moved into 11 University of Iowa dorms— including one that hasn’t been open in half a decade.

UI move-in took place starting on Aug. 13, as more than 6,000 first-year and returning students prepared to live in residence halls. With seven dorms on the east side of campus and four on the west, the streets were packed with cars carrying excited students.

The increased demand for student housing led to the UI announcing that the previously closed doors of Parklawn Residence Hall would reopen for the academic year.

No students are moving into temporary expanded housing like the UI planned, which is when a residence hall floor lounge is converted into a dorm room and shared among six residents.

UI President Barbara Wilson greeted students moving into residence halls on the east side of campus on Aug. 15.

Wilson said she is enthusiastic about how move-in was going and said the size of this year’s undergraduate class is a result of word spreading that the UI is a top institution across the nation.

“I think that we have more recognition across the country than ever before and we’re excited to welcome all these new Hawkeyes here,” she said.

Wilson said she had not been notified of any issues with reopening the Parklawn Residence Hall.

“Nobody’s [living] in the lounges, so we found space for everybody,” she said.

Students to live in Parklawn for the first time in five years

Parklawn Residence Hall was closed down in 2017 when Catlett Residence Hall was built and features suite style rooms with in-suite kitchens and bathrooms. Studio rooms converted into a studio apartment for two, and one-bedroom rooms converted into an apartment for three this year.

Von Stange, assistant vice president for student life and senior director of university housing and dining, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan that UI reopened Parklawn because of the high number of students set to live on campus.

“To prepare for occupancy, each room in Parklawn has been thoroughly cleaned, painted, and inspected. Additionally, the maintenance team has tested all systems (such as heating and cooling),” he wrote.

For UI first-year Jack Lee, living in Parklawn was an accident. While Lee was originally worried about his living situation, he realized it has its perks, not problems.

“It worked out perfect. The suite’s actually really nice,” Lee said. “It’s something that surprised me. I mean, I looked at the schematic and it looked like it’d be nice, but I didn’t expect it to be this spacious and everything, because I know some dorms have two beds and it’s like a jail cell.”

Lee lives in a one-bedroom with two other UI students. Despite the rooms being converted to house more students, he said he does not mind having two other roommates.

“I like it because we get three times the space, four times the space for one extra person. I’d say it’s perfect,” Lee said.

While the distance from campus to dorms like Parklawn and Mayflower is a downside for many students, Lee said the mile-long walk to campus is no problem for him

“I have my bike, so I brought that and I’m planning on biking to classes and everything,” Lee said.

Caleb Thumm, a third-year transfer student, said Parklawn was not his first choice for dorm life.

“I actually didn’t get a choice. [When] I signed up for housing, I wasn’t even accepted until after the end date,” Thumm said.

Thumm said he did not know how he felt about the dorm or the distance yet as he was just moving in but is looking forward to living on campus.

“I just have to get settled in first and then we’ll see how it goes,” Thumm said.

As of right now, Thumm is enjoying the recently tested out air systems running throughout Parklawn.

“I like how cold the room is,” Thumm said. “That’s my favorite part so far.”

For UI student Kylie Callahan, Parklawn was also not a first choice. Callahan is also a transfer going into her second-year and found that options were limited when it was time to pick a dorm.

“I’m excited, but a little nervous,” Callahan said. “I didn’t have a choice [in dorms].”

While Parklawn was not the ideal dorm for Callahan, one upside is the apartment style of living.

“I like that we have a bathroom and a kitchen, but I wish I was a little bit closer,” Callahan said.

Callahan said she has a car on campus which will help make the distance from Parklawn a lot easier to maintain.

Students experience pre-COVID-19 dorm life

Joseph Scopen, a third-year student majoring in physics and astronomy, said it feels like dorm life is almost back to what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted campus.

Scopen moved back into Burge Hall over the weekend for the third time during his time at the UI.

He said the atmosphere at Burge has changed significantly since first arriving at the residence hall two years ago when COVID-19 mitigation measures were enacted in university buildings.

“Back then everyone was pretty cautious of COVID-19. Now, it’s almost like 2018-19 where it feels like it doesn’t exist, even though it very much does,” he said.

Despite this, Scopen said he is comfortable with this return to normalcy in the dorms.

“I’m a lot less worried than I once was particularly because then there weren’t any vaccines then,” he said. “I have all my vaccines, including a booster, so I’m a lot more comfortable now.”

For Slater Hall roommates Jessica Hebior and Megan Rinzel, they said life in the dorms has been fun, and they have spent time enjoying the facilities and amenities that are available to students on campus.

“We set up our room pretty nice,” said Hebior. “The people have been so friendly here, when you say ‘hello’ people say ‘hi’ back.”

Sara Magdziarz, a third-year student majoring in biomedical engineering was one of many student volunteers assisting with move-in.

After helping with move-in last year, she said she noticed it was busier working this second time around due to a large number of freshmen moving in.

Magdziarz said she enjoys volunteering to help with moving in because she gets to help students and their families transition into college.

“You always see the parents crying when they’re leaving, I’ve even given my phone number out so I can ease parents’ concerns,” she said. “But it’s nice to see [the student’s] transition now that they have this new freedom.”