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Smooth sailing for housing process

Students say housing selection was more efficient this year within individual residence halls and without the points system

By Natalie Wheeler
On March 7, 2012

No long lines, no confusing crowds, no tears caught by The Beacon.

Saturday's housing selection went smoothly compared to previous years.

"I only heard positive feedback, basically," Mike Walsh, director of Residence Life, said. "People like it better in the smaller residence halls."

Individual residence halls hosted Saturday's housing selection, based on a lottery system. This differed from last year's points-based selection, when all students congregated in the Chiles Center for on-campus housing.

Unlike previous years' selection processes – which gave higher priority to students with higher GPAs and more credits – students who applied for on-campus housing were grouped by number of semesters at UP, giving seniority to higher grade levels. Students wanting housing within their current halls were also given priority.

"We got rid of the points system because of student feedback," Walsh said. "Some people had an unfair advantage because they had a lot of transfer credits. It was just confusing to students."

Students also complained last year about huge crowds and long waits in Chiles. On Saturday, students waited in the residence halls on sofas and chairs for 20 to 30 minutes until their lottery numbers were called.

"Last time I went through housing selection I ended the day in tears, it was so stressful," Fields RA and senior Theresa Cutter said. "This has been a really mellow housing experience. We did a lot of prep time and we're really organized."

However, not everyone was pleased with the latest system.

Freshman Rachael Smith wanted to keep her current roommate and move out of Mehling Hall, but could only leave her dorm if she went to Resolution Round-up – an option on March 22 for those who did not receive housing to select from remaining available spaces. She decided to stay in Mehling Hall rather than risk not finding housing at Round-up later.

"We don't really have an option to go anywhere else, so we're kind of stuck here unless we want to go to the Round-up, which is sort of a free-for-all for everybody else," Smith said.

Freshman Laura White thought the housing process was too biased toward people staying in their current residence hall. Because she was pulling someone in from another dorm, White was bumped to the end of the list.

"It's really stressful because I didn't know we were going to be the very last set of people to go," White said. "It is really confusing, especially with them trying to explain it all on email."

Walsh agreed the lottery system favors those who want to stay in their current hall.

"The process is not really that friendly to people who want to try something different," Walsh said. "I think we'll see more people upset at Round-up, because those are the people who wanted to get outside their hall."

In addition to the housing selection changes, Saturday marked Kenna Hall's shift from a coed to an all-female residence hall. The decision was made to change Kenna Hall to single-sex because of the unbalanced ratio of females to males at UP.

The males already living in Kenna – approximately 40 – were given priority housing several weeks ago, leaving extra space in the now single-sex hall.

"There are still a couple of rooms open, even when they blocked off the spots for freshmen," sophomore Kenna resident Carrie Jackson said. "So I guess the people who didn't sign up for housing can come to Kenna if they want to."

Besides Kenna Hall's transformation, Jackson said moving housing selection out of Chiles and replacing the points system with a lottery was a wise choice.

"Last year I was there for three hours and this time I was out in a half an hour," Jackson said. "It was a lot less hectic and it was just a lot easier for everyone with the lottery system."

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