The Signal

Serving the College since 1885

Sunday May 26th

The College’s housing department continuously strives to improve the quality of housing selection

<p>The Townhouses (Photo courtesy of Parisa Burton)</p><p><br/><br/><br/></p>

The Townhouses (Photo courtesy of Parisa Burton)

By Parisa Burton 
Staff Writer

The College's MyHousing website opened up its housing selection and left students scrambling for housing at their specified time slots in the last week of February for the 2023-24 academic year. 

The selection process can generate student frustration and confusion, but educating oneself on how it works can ease some of this tension.

According to David Cruz, associate director of housing, the housing office does projections each year to measure how many students will reside on campus. 

There are two main housing cycles: the returning student cycle and the first-year cycle. 

The application for the returning student cycle begins in early December through late January. Anybody higher than first-year students may apply, including commuter students. The selection occurs in late February. 

The first-year cycle application opens in late May and remains open for about two weeks. The actual selection occurs in late June and is open for about a week. Move in begins in late August for both cycles.

One frustrating thing for first-year students in the past is they received no jurisdiction in choosing their rooms. They were allowed preferences, which were taken into consideration, but ultimately it was auto-allocated.

“Last year was the first time ever we allowed first-year students to self-select their spaces,” Cruz said. “Doing so introduces first-year students to the process early on, so they know how to navigate and understand the works of the system, like joining roommate groups.”

Aside from first-year students, returning students have struggled with not being able to access housing at their specific time slots, as well as buffering issues when selecting spaces, or generally being unsatisfied with late time slots. 

According to Isabella Pappano, junior mathematics major, students with later time slots may be at a disadvantage. In her personal experience with housing selection last year, she received a late time-slot and was left with the last room available in Townhouse South, as all of the other spaces were taken. Many students had similar experiences. 

“My time slot was at 5:45 p.m. which forced me into a selection I didn’t necessarily want,” said Ayden Isbirian, a freshman secondary education history major. “I feel this is unfair to people in my position, especially when other people have time slots at 9 a.m.”

Isbirian added that his friends faced similar challenges and were left with the last option of Decker Hall.

“I think people who have accommodations receive priority, which I totally understand,” Isbirian said. “It just makes me a bit disappointed that I will have the less prioritized slot since I do not have accommodations,” said Isbirian.

An important thing to note is that time slots are randomly generated, and no one receives priority over others in regard to earlier times.

According to Cruz, the office utilizes a random lottery process for time slot distribution. Everyone who applies is put into a pool and a random number generator produces time slots randomly. 

There is only priority related to accessibility housing.

The housing department works with specialty housing, which gives accommodated housing based on necessity. The Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) allocates rooms with certain accessibility features to students with these needs. However, these students still have a randomly generated time slot. 

The College also has a small substance-free program for students who prefer to live in a substance-free environment. They are grouped with individuals with the same need.

An issue faced in previous years was students not being able to access their selection during their specific time slot, but this did not appear to be an issue this year. However, system overload continues to be a prevalent issue, but is improving.

“One issue we have faced is too many people logging into the system at once, causing it to malfunction,” Cruz said. “This is a load-bearing issue, which is why it is important to educate students, so they don’t log into the system earlier than their time slots because it hinders the process.”

Students have witnessed a difference in website performance this year when its traffic is down.

“I didn’t face issues with slow loading times because I went during a time when not too many people were on it,” said Pappano.

The housing department has also noticed significant improvements in the load bearing issue this year.

“The student body at large is adhering to their time slots,” Cruz said. “Group leaders are logging in by themselves. There has been a high compliance rate this year.”

A big reason for this increase in compliance has been utilizing a variety of strategies to educate the student body on how housing selection works.

“One improvement we hit on is being very intentional about educating the student population via email,” Cruz said. “We also did tabling in residence halls to make ourselves available for questions and held virtual info and chat sessions in our portal.”

After implementing these new strategies, the housing department measured success by sending out a survey to housing applicants. Questions were asked regarding if enough information was distributed, if students were seeing the emails, and if they overall felt well-prepared and knowledgeable.

There have also been significant changes made to the MyHousing portal since the last selection to make it as easy to navigate for students. Steps were simplified like the number of pages it takes to complete, the number of things to read, and the overall look and feel of the process.

The department is continuously striving to make the process as easy as possible, and is always open to student suggestions.

According to Pappano, the time-slot was a slight issue for her because she had class during her specified slot.

“A suggestion I have to make the housing selection better would be to spread the selection out over two or three days instead of cramming it into one day of selection,” Isbirian said. “That way it gives students a fairer shot to others to possibly get the housing they may want.”

According to Cruz, the housing department tries to be as in-tune to student needs as possible and the suggestion of spreading out selection over a few days is definitely on the table if it will ultimately benefit the students.

“Just to clarify, while there is an initial selection day, it remains open until the end of the week,” Cruz said. “For instance, the sophomore time slot was Monday, February 27, but the portal was still available until Sunday, March 5. The time slot just represents the earliest time they can select.”

In relation to slow loading times, this is a technical issue created by too many users in the system at once. This is why it is important for students to understand they should only log in at their specific time slot.

“It may be beneficial to spread out selection in a wider time frame,” Cruz said. “Maybe we will see faster performance. But, of course, anything technical will have its limitations.”

The housing office aims to keep improving the quality of housing selection by prioritizing educating the student population through various strategies.

“I think our primary goal is to continue to listen to student needs,” Cruz said. “As an office, we are open to suggestions and having focus groups and other strategies to implement the student voice. The system works best when it is geared toward student needs.”


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