Changes coming to housing selection process

By Conner Midgley l Herald Contributor

Important changes have recently been made to the student housing selection process, which were detailed in an email sent out by the Department of Residence Life and Housing on Feb. 10.
 
The first change has to do with cancellation fees. In the past, the housing department would often run out of space for students (particularly rising sophomores) to select, and those students would be stuck on the waiting list until July. To remedy this, the cancellation fees have been adjusted to increase as time goes on. The new fee amounts for students who cancel in between different time periods are as follows: no fee from January 27 to March 7, $350 from March 8 to May 31, $500 from June 1 to June 30, $750 from July 1 to July 31 and $1,000 from August 1 to the business day prior to the fall residence hall opening date.
 
Merit points are involved in the next change. These points are no longer being used in the selection process. This is being done because some of the things used to earn merit points work for some students and work against others. For example, points can be earned by working jobs on campus, but some students are stuck in situations that prevent them from working such jobs. Merit points have been removed from the process to make things more equitable for students. Similarly, the third change to the process involves housing selection now being based on students’ anticipated graduation dates rather than how many credits they have, as some students are in situations that allow them to earn more or less credits than others.
 
There will now also be a separation of the roommate selection process from the room selection process. Between Feb. 18 and Feb. 28, students will choose their roommates through a matching procedure, before they get to the step of choosing their actual housing. In the past, the department has not been able to easily predict how many people are going to select a certain room. This change will enable them to keep track of group sizes in relation to housing stock and communicate with those students they will not be able to accommodate. 
 
The final change listed was to the Continued Occupancy process. In the past, only one student could fill out the form and choose to include or exclude certain people they were staying with, a situation that led to much disagreement and arguing among students. The current form allows all students to select either “yes” or “no” to continue staying in their current room, with the students that chose yes then being required to fill in the bottom portion of the form.
 
Abbas Hill, assistant dean of student life and director of residence life and housing, said these changes will benefit students by helping them make decisions as early as possible, and benefit the department staff by giving them a process that is both sustainable and enables them to keep track of housing selection more easily. 
 
“The challenge comes with managing the newness of these changes for the students, so we tried to make the new system as familiar for the students as possible,” Hill said.

 
These changes were made to encourage students to decide whether or not they want to live on campus sooner, and in doing so, reduce the number of people on the waiting list during the summer. Students can cancel their contracts in the event of reasons such as a medical emergency, induction into the military, voluntary withdrawal from the university, or a drastic reduction in financial resources. In this event, students will only be charged the $350 cancellation fee and their housing deposit will be applied to that fee.