Dorm room competition highlights highs, lows of residence hall living


Jamie Cook and Rachel Vallier’s dorm room in Geoffrey.

Sierra Hoeger

Small rooms, shared bathrooms, walking five minutes to the nearest dining center and having to deal with annoying neighbors during the early hours of the morning — all of this and so much more comes with the price of living in a dorm.

Matching bed spreads, pictures decorating the walls, a tapestry and string lights can often be found in a dorm room. Video games, loungers and sports posters can almost always be found, as well.

Decorating one’s dorm room is a task presented to college students during the summer, allowing them time to think about how to decorate and liven up the small space.

Iowa State offers an interesting competition for those living in the 250 (or less) square foot rooms: the Best Room Campus Contest. Held every year by the residence halls, this competition is open from early October through mid-January.

The competition is based on photos submitted by the occupant of the room and depends on how many “likes” they receive on Facebook. The room that receives the most likes wins the competition.

The grand prize? A $300 ISU Bookstore gift card for each member living in the room. Second place wins $200 and the third place winner earns $100.

Not only is this a good incentive for the students willing to enter, but their photo will be used by the residence halls for marketing purposes online, in brochures, and shown to incoming freshman, in order to convince them to live in the dorms their first year.

“I wasn’t sure about entering at first, but I decided to enter after having a great laugh moving more things into the scene to make an even bigger mess,” said Jared Kirsch, a freshman in pre-business, about his dorm in Friley Hall.

Kirsch’s photo of his room provides an accurate description of a dorm room at its worst state: a garbage can full to the rim, a hamper with the same look, dirty towels lining his desk chair and miscellaneous boxes of cleaning products unopened on the floor.

Originally entering as a joke, Kirsch admitted that he wasn’t focused on making his side of the room look “fashionable,” but more for function rather than looks.

His favorite thing in his room? His scentsy. Not only does Kirsch enjoy the good odor they provide, but he also enjoys the compliments given to him on how good his dorm smells.

“In such a small room, smells tend to be very strong. Any food I would eat in my room tends to leave a smell for the next day or two, so being able to completely change the scent of my room is amazing,” Kirsch said.

Jamie Cook, a sophomore in genetics, and roommate Rachel Vallier, a sophomore in electrical engineering, wanted to enter to show off their rooms unique atmosphere. Living in Geoffrey Hall provides them with plenty of space to decorate however they please.

“We love how accessible campus is from our dorm. Nothing is too far away. Additionally, Geoffrey has a small computer lab and numerous privates study rooms,” Cook said. 

The three ottomans shown in the picture of the Geoffrey dorm have proved themselves to be the favorite between the two, providing more than what they intended them to.

“They are super cute as decorations, but also function as storage and seating when we have friends over,” Cook said.

As a community adviser for Linden Hall, Lexi Stumpf, a junior in apparel, merchandising, and design, wanted to create a space with her single room that is comfortable for both she and her guests to be happy and relaxed.

“Something that is overly stressed when first moving to college is having too many decorative pillows. The beds are super small and narrow, and I find myself having half my bed taken up by decorative pillows,” Stumpf said.

Both Kirsch and Cook would recommend living in the dorms as freshman because of all the opportunity it provides.

“It’s not only a great way to meet other people, but from what I know each dorm has areas to just chill out and relax,” Kirsch said.