Residence Life initiates new room selection system
The Office of Residence Life has redesigned the system that juniors and seniors use to select their on-campus housing selection, effective for the fall 2018 semester.
The new process gives upperclass students considering an on-campus apartment the opportunity to choose their housing, in person, on multiple dates during the 2017-2018 academic year. The next selection date is Feb. 22.
In the past, students were assigned pick times for when they could select online. That system is still in place for students entering their first and second years.
Kelly Bersett, associate director for housing operations, said the new process allows students more time to decide between on-campus or off-campus housing.
“They’re not being forced into making a decision that’s too quick for them, but they’re also not stuck without anything at the end,” Bersett said.
Before the new system was put in place, students needed to confirm their roommate group, log on to the housing portal at their assigned time and fill out the selected apartment to capacity. Additionally, students needed to sign a housing agreement, which committed them to living on campus. Now, students are able to see the available options before signing the contract.
For students like Eden Kim ’20, the new process has been positive so far.
“It was less stressful for sure because when I had to get housing for sophomore year, in the spring semester of freshman year, I had to get online in a time when I was in class,” Kim said. “That was very distracting.”
Residence Life first began to alter the selection process in the fall of 2016 with an early action process and two selection days in the spring of 2017. After those selection days had passed, Residence Life continued to receive requests from students looking to live on campus because of various changes in plans, and that feedback prompted additional changes to the system this year.
“We received a lot of feedback at that point saying as juniors and seniors, some people are choosing to live off campus and some people are choosing to live on campus, so roommate groups were a little bit more challenging for people to solidify,” Bersett said.
The process was expanded further this year to include an early action period in December 2017 and four different dates during the spring 2018 semester: Jan. 25, Feb. 22, March 27 and April 26. As the next selection dates approach, staff will continue to send emails and set up information tables to keep students updated.
This extended process offers students more flexibility in dealing with programs that might affect their living situation, such as Co-op, study abroad and student teaching, Bersett said.
For Robert Newton ’20, the new process allowed him to make last-minutes changes before his final selection.
“When we went in, it was going to be me and three other roommates, and then at the last second, we added another roommate and switched the whole housing choice,” Newton said. “We were going to do the Townhouses, and then we switched to Pennbrook that day.”
The other major change to the selection process involved converting from the online system to in-person. According to Bersett, this change was necessary because the new features were not compatible with the housing portal software. Students now go to the Residence Life office in LaFarge Residence Hall to make their selection.
Kim said that when she was selecting her housing online for her sophomore year, she had problems with the website and had to go to the Residence Life office to work it out anyway.
“Technology is great, but sometimes it can be really bad, especially in the process where it’s timed and first come, first serve,” Kim said. “[Now] you don’t have to do it online where you can’t ask other questions. Right then and there, Res Life is there, so you can ask questions.”
One of Residence Life’s goals was to improve the interactions with students and prevent technological errors through the in-person system.
“In reality, the students were saying it was more efficient for them to actually carve out some time, come in, make a selection and ask questions,” Bersett said. “It was helpful for us because we would have been answering those questions anyway, but we’re doing it face-to-face, which gives us some more quality interactions, not having to keep up with emails and the phones.”
Part of the low-tech process involves students crossing off the room they want on posters of the floor plans, which are hung on the walls in the Residence Life office.
Bersett said the selection process will remain the same for rising sophomores who are required to live on campus, as it would be too difficult to arrange for so many people to come into the office. For juniors and seniors, however, only around 12 to 15 percent of students stay in campus housing, so the more personalized system is manageable.
“There are students that recognize the benefits of the flexibility, particularly if they’re going to be gone for one semester,” Bersett said. “We don’t require them to find a sublet. We don’t require them to pay for the semester that they’re gone. That gives them some peace of mind that they know that they have a space when they get back.”