NIU housing cost does not reflect dorm conditions


Tim Dodge

The Patterson Hall East sits on an overcast Winter day. NIU’s housing cost does not reflect its poor condition. (Tim Dodge | Northern Star)

By Angelina Padilla-Tompkins, Editor in Chief

NIU housing has left students with broken elevators, surrounded by flooding and leaking. The housing cost needs to reflect the low-quality dorms. 

In 2022, Patterson Hall East had three separate occasions where a pipe burst and students were affected by flooding. 

Riley Day, a first-year majoring in visual communication and Patterson Hall East resident is nervous about another leak. 

“I know over (winter) break they had some flooding in the lobby, and my room is next to the lobby so that is a concern,” Day said. “It sucks because if something were to get damaged, they don’t cover it. And like always having to be aware of that.” 

Day has been on the hunt for an off-campus apartment to get her out of the dorms. 

“I was looking at apartments. We just couldn’t find any in time, so I’m gonna have to be here for another year, but I want to get out as soon as possible,” Day said. 

Students should not have to worry about whether there will be another leak – they should be able to relax in their dorms. 

Cameron Ryan, a first-year computer science major and current Stevenson Tower A resident, is irritated with constantly broken elevators. 

“The elevators are the biggest complaint by far,” Ryan said. “I’ve been late to a class or two before because of it.” 

When signing up for housing, Ryan tried to pick a room on the lowest floor available to avoid dealing with the Stevenson elevators as much. 

Dan Pedersen, executive director of Housing and Residential Services admits to the poor quality of the elevators in the Stevenson Towers. 

However, students should not hold out hope of them being fixed before the semester’s end. 

“We have eight elevators in the Stevenson Towers complex and all of those elevators have the original equipment in terms of the door openers and closers. That’s the original equipment from the 1960s,” Pedersen said. “It is in need of replacement, and we have that on the schedule to get replaced this summer.” 

Another problem that should have been solved before the beginning of the academic year is the water leak in a student’s Neptune East room. 

Caylin Wiggins, a senior environmental geoscience major, has had a leak in her room since the beginning of Fall 2022. 

When Wiggins moved into her single room in August of 2022, she noticed water damage along the right wall. She didn’t put much thought into it because she trusted that no student would be placed in a room with an active leak. 

On Oct. 20, 2022, her ceiling began leaking. 

Wiggins is beyond frustrated that this is the living situation she has been dealing with. There is clear water damage covering her wall and dripping down to the floor.

“It’s pretty s—. The Neptune dorms themselves are already not great. My room was like really dirty when I moved in. There was a lot of grime like it was not cleaned, or if it was cleaned then it was very poorly,” Wiggins said. “And on top of that having a whole half of the room I basically can’t use is just frustrating. And for health reasons, I’m not sure, like if it’s safe.” 

Wiggins has contacted housing services, but she feels they did not take her seriously and essentially told her to wait it out, claiming they would fix it later. 

“I contacted the work office and the housing people multiple times and at first it was just ‘we’re gonna send people to look at it’ and then there was no response. So I had to keep contacting them,” Wiggins said. “Eventually, I had to reach out to a third party, another person, to contact the office, and they basically told me they had plans to fix it during the summer.” 

When asked about any leaks at Neptune, Pedersen said he has no knowledge of the matter. 

“I’m not aware of that, so I guess I can’t comment on that,” Pedersen said. “That’s not anything that has come to my attention.” 

It is clear that housing has many problems they need to address in many of their residence halls, and perhaps they should prioritize solving the issues instead of increasing student costs. 

When the value of a product goes up, so does the price. If the quality goes down, the cost should reflect that. NIU housing appears to do the opposite. 

It was announced on Feb. 16 that NIU would be increasing its room and board rates by $200 per semester, according to the Board of Trustees

Grace Lindsey, a first-year biology major living in Patterson Hall East, enjoys her dorm but admits it is already too expensive. 

“I really like it. I do think it’s a little expensive. Just basically paying two grand more for just having your own bathroom, but I believe it is really nice,” Lindsey said. 

Students are frustrated with their housing costs increasing next fall. 

“I’m a little frustrated, a little worried, because I’m paying a lot already for housing. And then paying for tuition, and books and now you’re upping housing too,” Lindsey said. 

Additionally, Wiggins should not be paying the cost of a single room when she is living with an active water leak. She can’t even utilize that portion of the room she is paying for.

Ryan knows housing costs are being affected by inflation, just like everything else, but is still frustrated that NIU would raise the costs of residence halls before solving the housing issues. 

“It’s probably keeping up with inflation,” Ryan said. “Maybe they should get working elevators before they start raising rates.”