Dozens of UI students living three to a room as dorm overcrowding continues

The University of Iowa's overcrowding problem
Cranes hang over the University of Iowa’s west campus in late 2013. — photo by Phil Roeder

As of Aug. 28, 144 students in Slater Hall were living in what the University of Iowa refers to as “expanded housing,” according to Von Stange, senior director of university housing and dining. Expanded housing, in plain English, refers to less-than-ideal, crowded living situations.

As of last week, 29 of Slater Hall’s “double” rooms (11′-11″ x 17′-4″ as compared to 9′-8″ x 16′-10″ for a “single”) were housing three students each, and another 57 students were living in lounges throughout the building. Students living three to a room not only lose out on privacy, but personal space as well, as additional beds and furniture take up valuable real estate. The lack of space in university housing is due, at least in part, to this year’s record-setting expected incoming freshman class size.

Slater Floor Plan
Dozens of students are living three-to-a-room in Slater Hall. — graphic via the University of Iowa

While Stange says some of those students may have been moved into permanent, non-overcrowded housing since the end of last week, he doesn’t have a firm timeline or schedule for getting them all moved.

“As we find vacancies we will move people from all extended housing to permanent space,” Stange said. “We have expanded housing in Slater, Rienow, Stanley and Daum so we have to work within all those buildings.”

According to Stange, most of the rooms becoming available now were previously reserved for students who signed up for classes and never showed up. While situations like those will help to alleviate some of the housing issues, some students are going to be left to live with the current conditions until others decide to leave the university. As a trade-off, students living in expanded housing pay a reduced rate.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to be,” Stange said. “It’s possible that some students may spend the entire semester in expanded housing, but they may not as well. It depends on how many students we get into permanent space, and what the attrition is throughout the course of the semester.”

Whether this will happen again next year is unclear. The UI’s Petersen Hall, currently under construction across the street from Slater Hall, will open in the fall of 2015. As incoming freshman classes continue to grow, however, UI officials are unsure as to whether the new residence hall will alleviate the school’s overcrowding woes.

“It all depends upon what the first year class looks like at the university,” Stange said. “If it looks the same as this year, I would think with the new residence hall that we would be in reasonably good shape and not need as much expanded housing, if any at all. If the first-year class size is larger, then we may be in a similar situation.”

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