What kinds of inquiries or requests do you get most often from students?
New roommates, bigger rooms. A lot of students, especially our returning students, want single rooms, and so we are looking at decreasing the density of our current facilities. Most first-year students are happy to live with a roommate, they kind of see it as a rite of passage. But after they’ve done it for one year, most students would prefer to go back to having their own space.
Some students living in the residence halls now have proximity cards, or prox cards, in addition to their room keys. What are these for?
A prox card, which is the size of an ID or driver’s license, has a magnetic chip in it that gives students access to certain building doors. We started a pilot project this year with Rienow and Quad halls. The idea is to keep public space and student living space separate. For example, in Rienow, anyone can get to the first floor, the office, or the main lounge, but to get into the elevator to go to student living space, you have to use your prox card. Parklawn residents have been using prox cards for the last several years. This coming summer we’ll work on Hillcrest and Mayflower, and in three years’ time, we should be done with the rest of the buildings.
What precautions do students need to take to help maintain security in the residence halls?
Students still need to lock their room doors. Students still need to be cautious of who’s around in the building. If I walk through a door using my prox card and somebody comes in behind me who doesn’t belong there, that person can still gain access. Propping doors open still is an issue. Students still need to be careful as to whom they invite into the living space in order to keep their living space as safe as possible.
What can you tell us about the new 24-hour computer labs, known on campus as Information Technology Centers (ITCs)?
We had been staffing our ITCs—there are five among the 10 residence halls—from 8 a.m. to 10 or 12 at night, but the reality is that college students are working on papers at 2, 3, or 4 o’clock in the morning. There are some students who work all night in their rooms but want to go down to the ITCs to print out a paper. Now they have the ability and the flexibility to work in the ITC whenever they want to. The ITCs are open to all students.
Areas that offer wireless Internet access are popping up across the nation, in a variety of public and commercial venues. What kind of access do students have in the residence halls?
All students have Ethernet connections in their rooms, but a lot of students bring laptops and want to know where they can connect to wireless Internet. Our intent is to provide more wireless connection in our public space, such as lounges, in the future. Last summer we added wireless areas to the Currier Multipurpose Room and quiet study area, the Burge main lounge, the Riverview lounge area in Hillcrest, and most of the first-floor space in Mayflower.
What advice do you have for parents of students living in the residence halls?
If students complain to them about something regarding the University, they should make sure their student has told somebody at the University. I think it’s natural for parents to want to fix things for their children, but it’s important for the students to voice their concerns to the appropriate people at the University—tell them what’s going on, what they don’t think is right, and how their experience at Iowa is going.