Beginning this spring, incoming freshmen, transfers and returning students will be able to choose their room and roommate from the comfort of their homes. The Office of Residence Life has implemented a new electronic system that has moved the housing and roommate selection process online, meaning students no longer have to wait in long lines to secure a room.
Director of ORL Steve Nygaard said, “The idea is to improve our service to students.”
Students who wish to live on campus for the 2009-2010 school year will not have to wait in line to choose their room. In past years, students have received a lottery number which determined their room selection date; the lottery number was partly based on credits earned. After waiting in a long line, students would look at the big dry erase board and see what rooms were still available and choose accordingly. Resident assistants and ORL staff would then process their paperwork and mark the chosen rooms with big Xs. This tedious process took approximately three or four days to accommodate freshmen, sophomores and upperclassmen that signed housing contracts to live in on-campus housing. Now, after receiving their lottery number, students can reserve their room online. In the future, they will even be able to decide which side of the room they prefer and if they would like their bed lofted.
A negative housing situation can ruin a student’s impression and college experience. The system was implemented to improve service with ORL and to cut down on roommate conflicts. Nygaard said that one feature of the new system is the profile application. This application allows students to create a personal profile, similar to Facebook, MySpace and other social networking Web sites, which other students can peruse to find common interests. After creating a profile, a student can search for other students whose profiles match aspects of their own. When a student spots compatible people, he/she can save their profiles and view them later and compare them. The system provides a percentage indicating how closely other people’s profiles match a student’s. Interestingly, Nygaard said that studies have shown that roommates who are most compatible are those that share similar tastes in music.
In addition to creating a personal profile, students can make housing payments through the electronic system, create a screen name to chat with other students and sign housing contracts. In the past, students have expected ORL to match them with a compatible roommate. However, the electronic housing system places this burden on the students. Nygaard said with this system, “Students take responsibility early on to find roommates.” The profile and chat features prompt students to think about finding a roommate long before the housing selection process begins.
As of last week, 30 incoming freshmen and 700 students total have logged into the new system to apply for housing, search for a roommate or see which rooms are available. On Feb. 12, the first day that the electronic system was made available to students, the site crashed because too many students had attempted to log in at the same time. Nygaard said the system is adolescent and ORL is still working out the errors. The system also has the capability to generate reports that will aid ORL in making data driven decisions. For example, the data derived from the new system can let ORL know how many sophomores are planning to live on campus and they can plan accordingly.
Nygaard hopes that the new system will help “create an effective environment” for students to learn and socialize at USF. He said, “We [ORL] are here to serve out students.”
If students have problems accessing and using the new electronic system, they should contact ORL directly at extension 6824, or stop by the ORL office in Phelan Hall. The system can be accessed by logging into USF Connect and clicking on USFrooms under the student tab.