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SUMMER, 2007


Everything you need to know and more

College life 101: What students need to know

Safety on campus

Residents reap rewards

Iowa, Mason begin new chapter

Hawkeye birthday gifts and treats



The University of Iowa

Everything you need and more: Residence halls score high on student assessment

Students gathered at a table in the dining room.

Students are generally satisfied with life in the residence halls, according to a recent online survey. One area that consistently draws a wide range of comment, says Von Stange, director of University Housing, is food: “Everybody has an opinion about food, and our response is to invite students to share those opinions with us. Cooking for 3,000 obviously is a lot different than cooking for three.”

Audrey Banner plans to live on campus this fall for the third year in a row. The Hillcrest Hall resident says she has no reason to bother with apartment hunting.

“The residence halls have everything you need and more,” says the pre-pharmacy major from Roseville, Minn. “My friends at other schools are always impressed by how fortunate we are here to have things like big rooms and sinks in every room.”

In fact, a national online survey completed last fall by nearly half of the 5,000-plus student residents at Iowa indicates that the majority of them are satisfied with all aspects of residence hall living. Most feel safe in their rooms, are pleased with the attitude of the cleaning staff, and are content with how their resident assistants enforce rules and regulations. More than three quarters of the respondents reported that living on campus has taught them to live cooperatively and solve problems on their own.

The folks at University Housing, though, realize there always is room for improvement, and they regularly solicit input from residents. Areas of improvement over the last year pinpointed by survey respondents include dining service hours, value of the dining plan, variety of dining options, fellow residents’ respect for people of different races/ethnicities and of differing genders, and common areas.

Extending dining service by just one hour—from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.—and adding a late-night pizza and wings option at Burge Hall went a long way with residents.

“Those changes are the perfect example of the University listening and responding to student concerns. Almost everyone I know has been able to get a late meal after the dining hall closes,” says Tess Feldman, a junior Spanish and international business major from Riverside, Ill., and a resident assistant in Daum Hall. “The halls are our homes, and it is great to know that we have a say about how things can be around here.”

Two students in a lounge area.
The survey complements University Housing’s use of student focus groups and other avenues for obtaining feedback. It also allows officials to compare the University’s performance with those of like-sized institutions, says Von Stange, director of University Housing.

“I’m particularly pleased that we’re doing so well in the service areas—from the desk staff to the janitorial staff,” he says. “That is a key component of what we offer. It means we’re training our staff to interact well with students.”

In addition to the dining changes that took effect last year, Stange notes, University Housing plans to start offering nutritional information on individual menu items.

Other planned improvements include:

  • Creation of a new Manager of Academic Initiatives position, to help coordinate residents’ academic and residential lives and work with the various learning communities in the residence halls.
  • Continuation of student focus groups, and following up on meetings  that occurred in the spring of 2007.
  • Development of a computer module that would better match roommates by using more criteria.
  • Completion of wireless-network installation in most public areas in the residence halls.
  • Installation of a fire-suppression (sprinkler) system in Slater Hall.
  • Furniture replacement in Mayflower Hall.

University Housing depends on students’ opinions, insists Stange.

“Without students, we wouldn’t have residence halls. Their feedback guides our policies and procedures,” he says. “Every year we have administered the survey, we have changed something based on student satisfaction or concerns. While complete satisfaction by every resident is not possible, our goal is for students to enjoy and learn from their experience of living in the residence halls.”

by Sara Epstein Moninger


Published by University Relations Publications. Copyright The University of Iowa 2004. All rights reserved.

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