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Jewett Hall will close this summer

A collage of photos of jewett Photo of Jewett by Caroline Siebels-Lindquist. Jewett Laundry Photo Courtesy of save_jewett via Instagram. Photo of poster by Maria Heath

Later this year, Jewett Hall will be given a new purpose: providing housing and space for conferences and events. 

The residence hall will serve as conference and events housing from at least summer 2024 to the end of the 2024-2025 academic year, according to Chief Student Affairs Officer Jerry Parker. The University hopes that repurposing Jewett will make money, but Parker said it’s too early to tell how much.

“Right now, we’re looking at this as: ‘Let’s give this a try for a year, and see how it goes,’” Parker said.

The University has an opportunity to let people from other institutions stay at Jewett, Parker said. Also, Drake departments and organizations might be able to use space in Jewett, but this has not yet been determined. 

Potentially, there will be conferences students might want to attend, Parker said. Since this decision was made recently, Drake doesn’t “have anything on the docket right now.” 

“I know D+ Improv was just down in Missouri for a regional conference that was hosted, I believe, at another college campus,” Parker said. “Where we’ve been held back on offering those types of overnight experiences, we now have that opportunity to leverage.” 

Jewett isn’t the only hall that will take on a new purpose. The Times-Delphic reported in November on plans to turn Morehouse Hall into a student life center. 


Why will Jewett no longer be a residence hall? 

This past fall, fewer first-year students came to Drake than expected, Parker said. Plus, an increasing number of students are living off-campus, including students from the Des Moines metro, commuter students, transfer students and Bright College students. All of this helped lead to the decision to repurpose Jewett. 

“If enrollments had been at the same levels they were back five years ago, I don’t know if we’d be able to take on this opportunity like we’re able to do right now,” Parker said. 

Jewett resident Catalina Samaniego said she likes Jewett’s calm atmosphere, and she’s sad that Jewett will no longer be a residence hall. She noted that some Drake clubs did not receive funding and she feels like the quality of things like Hubbell Dining Hall have “gone down.” 

“It’s really frustrating as a student to know that we have a budget deficit and to understand that, but it’s hard to understand where they’re trying to fix it when I see that we have this super expensive soccer stadium,” Samaniego said. “I didn’t even know that we had a soccer team.”

The Mediacom Stadium opened in October, The Times-Delphic reported. The funding source was donors and Des Moines Public Schools, according to an internal website titled “Shaping Our Future” that Drake shared with students


Does this affect accessibility in Jewett? 

Currently, there are no plans for the physical structure of Jewett to change, Parker said. 

Parker also doesn’t expect accessibility for people with disabilities in the building to change. Drake’s website says that the first floor of Jewett Hall has access for people with disabilities. 

Drake sophomore and Jewett resident Rain Clark said they were waitlisted for a single room and had to email Drake President Marty Martin before they got one. They said having a single room is necessary for their chronic illness. 

“If you’re restricting the housing more, are there still going to be spots that are specifically made available to disabled students that are going to be accessible, that are going to have what they need and that aren’t going to be denied to them or waitlisted?” Clark said. 

Parker said that if students have documentation on file with Student Disability Services, “they would receive priority if they participate in single room sign-up night.”


The future of student housing at Drake

Jewett and Goodwin-Kirk halls currently house sophomores and above. In an email to residential students, Drake said “we envision” that a first-year hall — Herriott Hall — will house sophomore students as well, beginning this upcoming academic year. Campus Suites at Dogtown, formerly the Holiday Inn Express, offers housing to juniors and above, graduate students and professional school students, The TD reported in April 2022.

Even without Jewett, Drake has 1,345 beds available between the five residence halls and the Campus Suites at Dogtown, Parker said. Currently, just under 1,100 students live on campus, including the campus suites. 

Drake may have to change its residence setup in the future, Parker said. 

“Next year, we’ll have a better handle on the number of students that we have currently that are in first-year halls,” Parker said. “Are we able to meet capacity by keeping the same type of setup that we have going into next year? Or do we have to modify that?” 

Caroline Siebels-Lindquist contributed reporting. 


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