Dorm life: A rite of passage for every Illini


Jacob Slabosz

Afternoon traffic walks through the Ikenberry Commons on Feb. 15. The Ikenberry Commons is home to many options for dorms, most of which house freshman.

By Nicole Littlefield and Tianxin Li

University Housing requires freshmen to live in residence halls for a minimum of one academic year. The University has always had on-campus housing because it originally consisted of one building, University Hall, which was a dormitory, classroom, lecture hall, laboratory and museum. Today, University Housing comprises 24 undergraduate residence halls, two graduate/upper-division undergraduate student residence halls and three apartment complexes. 

The Student Code states “All first time attending undergraduates must live in housing … for the entire academic year.” This includes freshmen (anyone with 29.9 credits or less), applicants for admission who are still in high school, anyone who has not attended postsecondary education after high school, students who are enrolled in the fall term with credit from the prior summer semester and transfer students who have earned fewer than 30 credits.

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Mari Anne Brocker Curry, director of housing information and marketing for University Housing, said that students 21 years old or older are exempt from the housing requirement.

“Because of the certified housing standards on our campus, we know all housing approved to house new students will provide a certain level of housing, dining and programming to support a student’s successful transition to our campus,” Brocker Curry said. “Our research shows that students who live in approved housing for two or more years are more likely to graduate and more likely to graduate in four years than someone who moves out after their first year.”

Ruiyi Hou, freshman in LAS, is not new to the residence hall experience. In high school, she lived in a residence hall with five other classmates. Hou lives in Synder Hall and said she likes the architectural style of the residence hall.

“The room is not very big, but it is enough for me to arrange all my stuff,” Hou said. “It kind of satisfied my need for security since I left my home with no one close here.”

Hou said she understands why freshmen are required to live in University Housing. 

“It helps students to take on the new environment slowly and without worrying about basic living needs and safety,” Hou said. “It is also a kind of way that keeps students on track, so they would not (be overwhelmed) just because they went to college where they can literally do whatever they want.”

Katharine Cui, freshman in LAS, lives in Illini Tower and shared similar beliefs as Hou. 

“It is necessary for us to live in the same place with other students the same age because this is our first year,” Cui said. “So, we can make more friends and just get to know more about the school.”

Cui said she understands the University requirement, but she does not believe freshmen should be required to sign a year-long contract. After being on campus for a semester, she said she understands campus and believes she would be able to live in an apartment by her second semester.

Beulah Lee, senior in Engineering, is a resident adviser at FAR. She explained that living in a residence hall provides students with many opportunities to interact with peers. As an RA, she hosts events and activities and encourages students to meet new people.

Lee talked about the pros and cons of life in residence halls.

“Living in dorms freshman year shouldn’t be mandatory because dorms are indeed quite expensive and not so necessary for local students, but students can benefit from it, (as the) RAs often hold events and activities to help students make new friends,” Lee said.

For many students, living in a residence hall is a rite of passage and will continue to connect past, present and future Illini.

“Dorms, roommates and dining halls,” Lee said. “These make students’ freshman year (feel) more complete.”


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