University dorm construction warranted


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The University of Iowa will attempt to stop the overcrowding of the dormitories, hoping that lengthy stays in temporary housing will soon be a thing of the past.

The university will build its first residence hall since 1968 in response to the recent growth in first year classes, said Von Stange, the director of UI Housing and Dining.

The Daily Iowan first covered the expansion in April 2011 with the original $42 million, 450-bed "Pod style" dormitory that had an estimated 2014 completion date.

Since then, new plans have been drafted for a dormitory that will house 501 Hawkeyes. The project will have to manage within a $53 million budget, and it has an estimated summer 2015 date of completion.

The expansion is a necessary move, one that has been strictly regulated to keep from hindering student learning as little as possible.

"This isn't exactly about the retention of second- and third-year students," Stange said. "But more to provide for larger, first-year classes."  

University officials in charge of planning the construction made sure that the education of West Campus students would be respected during the process, he noted.

"[The construction workers] are not allowed to begin before 8 in the morning, and they're not allowed to continue past 7 at night," Stange said. "Also, we made sure they wouldn't be doing any construction the week before finals or during finals week at all. We want to make sure those ends of the semesters are taken care of properly."

This respect for students is partially why the estimated date of completion has been pushed to 2015, something for which the UI staff in charge of this new addition should be applauded.

Another problem could be the worries of second- and third-year dormitory residents.

"We plan on building something that will fit more of the second- and third-year students later on university property," Stange said.

In recent years, the university has had to pay for places for students to live because of overflow, leasing hundreds of apartments in Iowa City, as reported by the DI. The payment for these temporary places have just been bandages on the problem of UI housing instead of a permanent investment which has not been taken care of — until now.

Since 1968, the last time the university built a new residence for its students, UI enrollment has swollen to 30,893 from 19,506, according to the Registrar's Office.

The new dormitory is a necessity, a sign of our success at creating an attractive place to earn a quality degree. The only downfall could be the disruption of student learning because of construction noise, which has been taken care of as best as possible. The new hall will be a sign of success, and eventually it will be worth its investment in students finding a quality home for their introduction to becoming Hawkeyes.

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