Carolyn Polis '18 Contributing Writer
The Office of Residence Life sought student input to improve its room draw process for students going abroad last Friday in a roundtable discussion at the Lewis Global Studies Center.
ResLife needs to reserve a certain number of rooms for incoming first-years, transfer students and students who may require specific accommodations, which can become quite complicated. The office depends on rooms released by students who will be studying abroad for the fall semester or for the whole year when placing those other students.
Rooms that are chosen by students going abroad are generally released at the end of May, giving ResLife a chance to start the process in preparation for the following school year. In effect, rooms chosen by study abroad students are not reserved.
When a student returns for the spring semester, or if a student decides over the summer not to study abroad, her room is not held for her. Rather, she is put into the shuffle of students who still need to be placed in a house.
ResLife tries to place these students in the last house they lived in if they have indicated a desire to remain there, but that is not always possible.
However, the room that a student chooses at room draw does not affect where she will eventually be placed because the room is released by the end of May.
The system has been known to cause issues for study abroad students. Some think that the room they choose will be available to them when they return or if their plans change at the last minute, which is not the case. Other students sign up to live with a roommate, only to go abroad and leave their roommates with somebody they don’t know, which can cause resentment and anxiety.
Another common cause of bitterness is when a study abroad student chooses a sought-after room in the house, and then have it be released and given to a first-year or transfer student. This system, Erica Banz, the ResLife assistant director said, hasn’t been changed in at least 10 years, and it doesn’t really make sense anymore.
The department is hoping to move the process online in the future. Instead of congregating in the Carroll Room and anxiously waiting to see which rooms are still available, this new system would involve each student having a specific time frame in which to log on to the server and choose her room.
Study abroad students would not necessarily have to choose a room for the time they will be away, and when the time came for them to participate in the next year’s room draw, they could choose their rooms themselves through the server instead of sending proxies to wait in line.
Knowing this new process may cause anxiety for some, especially because all new systems have their bugs, Banz proposed initially setting some extra rooms aside for the study abroad students if that would be a comfort.
The department remains eager to engage in a dialogue with students about room draw changes and to hear their concerns.