Meredith Stafford, Campus Carrier staff writer
During the week of housing registration, students expressed concerns and frustrations with the process and its outcomes. From the perspective of administration and Residence Life, however, the process went more smoothly this year than in previous years.
Lindsey Taylor, dean of students, discussed the difference between the students’ and administration’s perspectives.
“It’s interesting because from our perspective it was one of the smoothest housing selections, being that the software worked the way it was supposed to,” Taylor said.
According to Taylor, Centennial filled faster between senior and junior timeslots, which is a first for the hall. She said that the administration views this change as a good one because it shows students progressing in their housing experiences and that the system is working how it’s supposed to.
Taylor described the system by which students are placed into groups to select their housing choices as complicated. For example, a senior that chooses to room with a sophomore would have to wait for the sophomore’s later time slot in order to register. Taylor mentioned that misconceptions among students about when they could register occur every year.
Morgan and Deerfield also filled up very quickly according to Taylor. She noted that many students went through room reclaim, which could have accounted for some of the lack of available spaces in that particular dorm. There has also been a steadily growing trend among students with having more credit hours, but Taylor explained that the trend has been the same in prior years and does not explain the differences this year.
“There’s always disappointment, but this year, I think we had spaces appropriately designated to ensure everyone was able to select a space and so I think we still have good space for our incoming students,” Taylor said. “I don’t think we’re going to have to see a lot of shifting over the summer, even if the incoming class is bigger than we anticipated. From that perspective the planning and the execution was really well done. [It] Doesn’t change or negate the fact that it’s stressful for students. It can be disappointing for a lot of students, but it worked the way it was supposed to.”
Assistant Director of Residence Life Stephen Swieton also emphasized that the process worked in the way that it was supposed to. According to Swieton, the problem arose out of more students wanting certain types of spaces than the number of those spaces available.
A total of 1,353 students selected spots over the course of the four selection days, contrasted with last year’s number at 1,210. Even before room selection began on the first night on Monday, there were already 342 people assigned to rooms. Swieton said that this number included resident assistants (RA) and their roommates, Year of Service cottages, animal unit cottages, students with medical accommodations and students who reclaimed their room. Monday night, 259 students were scheduled to register, but in the end 289 students selected their rooms.
“By the time you get to the end of room selection, you’re going to have students who are in buildings that they perceive as freshman buildings,” Swieton said. “Now, it’s important to remember that there are no freshman buildings; all of our buildings are mixed.”
Swieton said that the issue of more advanced credit hour students ending up in those buildings could have stemmed from them not having a roommate group. This year, students without a roommate group were able to select from open spaces once the time slots during the week had completed. However, according to Swieton, by the time they reached that point, the spaces that were left were RA roommate spaces and rooms in Dana, Morton-Lemley and Ford, particularly for female dormitories.
“The other thing that I think tripped some people up is the mixed time slots and students not understanding that the time slot is assigned to you as an individual,” Swieton said. “It has nothing to do with your group and the reason for that is you can switch in and out of your group as many times as you want up until you actually make an assignment for yourself.”
Swieton said that it was important for students to access the resources for room selection that Residence Life provided: emails, FAQs and videos. He said that while the process of selecting rooms caught most students off guard this year, Residence Life did more advertising for the process than in years prior.
Swieton added that every year, a certain number of students complete a housing application but do not select a room. This year, out of the 1,403 students that applied for a space, only 50 did not select one.
“So, in terms of the process itself, this went really, really well,” Swieton said. “We’re totally open to, if somebody has an idea, how can we better educate students through this process, but sometimes it’s hard.”
Students viewed the housing registration process differently. Madi Rowe, a junior, experienced setbacks when trying to select housing. According to Rowe, her original plan was to select a four-person suite in Thomas Berry. She said that the housing website was difficult to navigate when selecting a room.
“When I was looking at it, not all of the houses and housing options came up on the website and it was really hard to figure out if, [a room] —like what was happening on the first day where everything was just like completely filled—was real, like if that had actually happened because they didn’t communicate with us until like 2 p.m. the next day and two, the lack of communication made it really hard to make backup plans, because obviously you make backup plans based on situations in years prior to what’s happening now,” Rowe said.
Rowe emphasized that the two main issues she has with the process are the lack of communication and the difficulty of the site. She described how, as a first-year mentor, it was difficult to teach her students how to register for housing because there was no easy access to learn how to do it offered.
“I want to see a better system for registering for houses,” Rowe said. “I want to see more communication and quicker communication about the situations that are happening since all of these situations are completely new to everyone on campus.”