By David Edward Clark
ResEd has restructured Oberlin’s housing selection process, which will take place later this semester. Students will now choose groups before they are assigned appointment times; at the appointment times, students can sign up for any type of housing that they qualify for. Students can also watch as specific rooms are being taken live on Google Docs.
Students will register as groups or individuals from March 8th to the 19th. The new housing selection itself will occur in Peters on the weekends of April 17th-18th and the following 24th-25th. Students will be notified of their appointment by email and by boards listing all appointment times placed in each residence hall. To better predict the number of returning students for fall semester, the College will now require students to complete their housing selection before allowing them to register for classes.
After students have registered as singles or groups, appointment times will be assigned based on the number of semesters in residence. For groups, the number of semesters in residence is averaged among the students. Semesters in residence include any approved academic leaves (study abroad), though personal or medical leaves do not count. Both individuals and groups are entered into the same lottery for appointment times within their semesters in residence. Groups can have as many as eight students.
In previous years, lottery numbers based on semesters in residence had been assigned to students prior to grouping. Appointment times were made based on the average of the group’s lottery numbers. This led many students to play a numbers game by finding roommates with low number in attempts to get preferable housing. “Lottery numbers became too great an influence in student’s decisions on whom they wanted to live with and how they wanted to group because they were trying to position themselves,” said Tyson, who hopes the new system will encourage students to live with friends.
This year, all College housing will be available to students at the time of their appointments, given that the students qualify for the specific types of housing. Students must have four semesters in residence to qualify for village housing, and those who desire a program house must complete an application and be accepted into the program before their selection.
In previous years, the on campus housing had been split into separate processes. “It was too categorized,” said Tyson. The process for choosing singles was separate from that of groups, and village housing was separate from traditional. Once students chose a process, they had to stick to it, and if their type of housing was taken before they chose a room, they had to enter another process.
If groups arrive to find their choice housing taken, they can split up in any number of ways. For instance, a group of four that wanted a village house can decide to choose a traditional quad, two doubles, a single and a triple, or four singles. Because the group splits up and chooses rooms at the same time, students can choose two doubles right next to each other, or four singles on the same floor. The only kink in the splitting process would come if members in a group had different numbers of semesters in residence. In that case, those students with the lower number of semesters may have to return to choose housing with those students who share the same semesters in residence.
ResEd has also made efforts to limit the number of double booked rooms. In the past, “Double booking was a problem, especially in the highly sought after housing,” said Molly Tyson. This year, ResEd will use Google Docs to instantaneously show when a room has been taken and will enter each student’s selection directly into the housing database. During lunch breaks and between days, ResEd will audit the placements to double check that there has been no double booking.
Another benefit of Google Docs is the ability to share room statuses with students. “We’re using the Google Docs as a convenience tool for students to know what’s available and what’s not,” said Tyson. Students will be able to access the document ResEd will be using online so they can keep their eyes on their top choices and know what’s left before they even arrive to choose.
Lastly, students will choose their meal plan at the same time they choose their housing.
Students will have the chance to ask ResEd questions concerning the new process during forums held between March 8 and March 19. There will also be an on-campus housing fair Wednesday, March 10th from 7 – 9 p.m. in the Root Room. Throughout the event, raffles will be held for flex points and gift cards, and there will be two grand prizes.