New online housing process debuts for spring placement

Gone are the days of standing in long lines or waking up at 5 a.m. in order to secure living accommodations.

There’s a new housing program in town, and it’s set out to make the process much easier for both students and the residence life department.

Applications manager Robin Schilling explains how and why the method for choosing housing changed.

“The current manual housing process was getting to be a very long and difficult process. We had tried last year to create a process in house for room selection, but that had its own set of problems,” she said.

After looking at different outside vendors, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Donna Plank decided on StarRez, a software program used by universities, such as Texas Christian University and Boston College.

With the help of the new web-based application, the housing process will now be done in steps, not only making it easier for students, but also cutting back on server issues experienced last semester.

Schilling said, “The reason for the multiple step approach is to better understand the needs of the student. The first step is to get an idea of any changes the student wants to make. Those that want to make a change will then be assigned a time to complete the room selection process. Students will avoid waiting in long lines hoping their room is available.”

The first step began Nov. 1. Students had four days to pick their housing for the spring semester, choose a roommate if they didn’t have one and verify that person. This step could be done at any time of their convenience.

To prevent traffic, only 75 students were allowed onto the website at the same time. So far, students are having a good feeling about the new procedure.

Sophomore finance major Kristina Liu said, “It seems easier to use than last year’s setup. When I was doing the first step, I didn’t have any problems at all. It was quick and easy. I think it would be helpful if you are just going to find a random roommate, but the specific room selection option seems the most useful.”

Step 2 began today. Priority numbers and time slots were sent via email Nov 9, and instructions went out yesterday. Plank wants to assure students a repeat of last semester’s mishaps won’t take place this time.

“It’s not like the first-come, first-serve thing that we did. When we opened the door, we opened it to 500-600 people, and sure enough 500-600 people sat down at 5 in the morning all at the same moment, and all of them tried to get on. Well, that didn’t work,” she said. “We will have time slots that are 20 minutes in length that will hold 15 people.”

Students are also allowed to use the program any time after their time slot opens, but they run the risk of not getting the housing they desire.

Some of the new features included with the application involve a roommate selection feature. Using a roommate ID number, a student can find another student, or search for a random roommate using the roommate questionnaire, which will help pair students.

New floor plans are also available on the school website, and the web-based application, to help students who are not familiar with the campus get a better sense of what they’re choosing.

“There are people who will pick a building, and they’re not really sure what they are picking… This will give you a picture of the building you’re picking and a little bit of detail about that building before you pick it,” she said.

So far, the residence life department has heard no complaints. Plank hopes it stays that way through the process.

She said, “I would love to hear students say ‘That’s great. I love it.’ That would be wonderful to hear, but, honestly, if there are no reactions, that means it didn’t go wrong.”

 

Author: April Littleton

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