Hanging lofts become latest concern

Matt Kuhns

In response to concerns about ceiling damage and safety hazards caused by hanging lofts, Iowa State Director of Residence Randy Alexander has asked the Inter-Residence Hall Association to review the policy on lofts.

Alexander said he originally began looking into the loft policy after receiving complaints from the Student Health Center about frequent injuries connected with hanging lofts. Since then, he said, he has heard other explanations offered for the loft-related injuries.

Alexander said his current concern with hanging lofts is that they are causing damage to dorm room ceilings.

The lofts scrape and chip paint off the ceilings, he said, and repainting the damaged areas would be costly.

The accepted policy on hanging lofts actually conflicts with the Residence Hall Handbook, Alexander said.

The policy currently allows only free-standing lofts, and Alexander asked IRHA how it would implement change in the current policy.

IRHA has been working with Alexander this year to resolve the hanging loft question, said IRHA President Jay McLaren.

On Feb. 19, IRHA unanimously passed a resolution supporting hanging lofts and recommended that foam rubber padding be used to protect ceilings from damage.

“All lofts do damage to walls,” McLaren said. He also said hanging lofts are more stable than freestanding lofts from an engineering viewpoint.

Alexander has examined hanging lofts in the Towers Residence Association, and he said that “they seem to be pretty solid.”

Because Alexander has recently been out of town, he said he has not had a chance to examine IRHA’s recommendation.

After making his decision about the loft policy, he said he will notify IRHA but will need no further approval.

Students who have heard about the review of hanging lofts were upset by the news.

Erin Olsen, residence assistant of Larch Hall’s Caine House, said she was “not too thrilled” by the possibility of a ban on hanging lofts.

“A lot of people are going to have to buy new lofts” if hanging lofts are banned, she said.

Olsen, junior in art and design, said that aside from the cost of replacing their current lofts, students like hanging lofts because they take up less floor space than free-standing lofts.

“I think it’s just a ploy to get rid of [hanging lofts] because they don’t like them,” said Pete DeGroot, freshman in forestry.

He said he doubted Alexander’s statement that damaged rooms would have to be repainted.

“I still have smoke stains from three years ago on my ceiling, so I don’t think they paint the ceilings too much,” DeGroot said.

The president of Cessna House in Larch Hall agreed.

“You look at the walls, and there’s marks everywhere,” said Brian Swanson, junior in genetics and performing arts. “I don’t think they’ve been painted since the early ’80s.”