University housing converts lounges to dorms due to increased participation of on-campus living

By Fizza Hassan, Staff Writer

The housing department at the University of Illinois has seen an overwhelming number of students sign up for on-campus living, which has been a challenging feat for the department to accommodate — especially for the four-people dorm rooms at the Illinois Street Residence Halls.

Director of Housing Information and Marketing for University Housing Mari Curry explained how living has been impacted especially with the introduction of new dorm-lounge living concept.

‘The lounge spaces themselves are larger to accommodate up to four people so the square footage per person in some cases is larger for those residents than if they were living in a standard resident hall room,” Curry said. “However, when the lounges are occupied, that does increase the overall occupancy of the floor and repurposes the community lounges for a period.”

The new dorm-lounges have served as a temporary readjustment for many housing students before they settle into their permanent room assignment and at first were a point of concern for both students and parents.

“We normally get some concern around the time of the initial assignment, but once students are here and settled, those concerns are alleviated,” Curry said. “Generally, we find that after residents see and move in to the space, their initial concerns are put to rest. Students participate in the floor activities and become a part of the hall community and in some cases, they end up liking the space so much that they don’t want to leave when a permanent space becomes available.”

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When asked if the overcrowding was a result of admitting too many freshman students, Curry said not necessarily.

“Our housing population is made up of variety of different student groups, including new freshman, returning residents, transfers, exchange students and others who are upperclassmen but enjoy the benefits of living with University Housing,” Curry said. “This year we also had several students who returned to campus in person to fulfill the campus live-on requirement after being completely remote last year. Each year those groups of students fluctuate.”

With COVID-19 guidelines, increased hustle was a definite point to address while catering students in these spaces. If the virus is caught by a student, Curry said the housing administration has a systematic way of tackling the problem.

“We would follow our normal isolation and quarantine protocols which includes moving the student for their time in isolation or quarantine to spaces dedicated specifically for that use,” Curry said.

Students were informed of their temporary lounge-dorm assignments prior to moving and will soon see a changeover moving to their permanent assigned rooms.

‘The next flurry of concern is centered around when students are asked to move to a permanent space,” Curry said. “However, we do everything we can, including curb-to-curb moving assistance, to make the move to a permanent space as least disruptive as we can for those students.”

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