UI introduces movie, show streaming service for dorm students

University Housing and Dining launched Residence Life Cinema, a streaming service offering up to 400 movies and television shows, for on-campus residents.


Lillie Hawker

Photo Illustration by Lillie Hawker.

Colin Votzmeyer, News Reporter

University of Iowa student living on campus can now access select movies and television shows with the university’s new entertainment streaming service.

Earlier this month, University Housing and Dining released Residence Life Cinema, a streaming service owned by Swank Motion Pictures, Inc., an international film distributor and licensor, for students living in residence halls.

Greg Thompson, UI director of residence education, said the service offers up to 400 movies, from classic films to new releases, that are constantly rotated as well as a few television series. He explained the service is a one-year trial Swank presented to the UI to gauge student enjoyment and usage.

The UI’s Associated Residence Halls board initially explored and pushed for the service to see what more the UI could provide for on-campus residents, he said.

“Part of living on campus is there’s an expectation of services that are provided for students,” Thompson said. “Just like laundry, just like being able to have a meal plan accessible…being able to have some access to video or digital entertainment I think is starting to become an expectation.”

Other Big Ten universities, like the University of Minnesota, have similar dorm entertainment services. The university offers student’s UMN-TV, with more than 120 channels. Indiana University has another streaming service, XFINITY Stream.

Thompson said he was confident the service would serve UI students as more than just after-class entertainment, ultimately expanding its usage for higher learning.

“The ability to have a company that will work with us to curate and pull in specific titles around things that are happening on campus or different celebrations of the various identities that we have on campus is just another way that we can supplement the mission of the university,” he said.

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Molly Bimm, a UI first-year transfer student, lives in Catlett Residence Hall and was delighted after hearing about the new streaming service. She immediately used it to watch “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

“I think that I would probably come home on a Friday night from class and look through a category that interests me and pick a movie to watch for the night,” Bimm said. “It’s nice that it’s free, and it’s nice that I could just watch it right on my laptop wherever.”

Emi O’Brochta, a UI third-year student, lives off-campus and said she was upset when she heard of the service’s fun offerings excluding students who aren’t living on campus.

“[I feel] a little disappointment that when we lived in the dorms, we didn’t have access to that, and it would be nice,” O’Brochta said. “I do kind of get it because the cost of housing is so high that it makes sense that it would coincide with the cost, but it is a bit of a bummer.”

Bimm said she has enjoyed the easy-to-navigate, categorized layout that Residence Life Cinema offers for a wide variety of films, leading her to excitedly dub the service as “a student Netflix.”

“I think I might watch one before my study session,” Bimm said.