Northwestern housing and student affairs to reevaluate housing application process

Kelly Hwu

After collecting student feedback about Northwestern’s current housing and roommate application procedure, the NU Division of Student Affairs and Undergraduate Housing Office are looking at other options for the class of 2016 and future incoming classes.

Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, assistant vice president for NU’s Student Auxiliary Services, said the housing staff began looking into changing the application process in January. She said the University’s current process has led to frustrated students who did not get their top housing choices.

“We’re really in the investigative process, but we want to launch this fall,” Payne-Kirchmeier said.

One of the proposed plans include an online form that displays the dorms that are open to freshmen. Rooms would list open occupancy spaces and students would be able to click on the room to assign themselves housing. With this system, students might be able to self-populate without the help of NU staff. Payne-Kirchmeier said the Division of Student Affairs is still developing a priority system on how to choose the students who would get to choose their rooms first.

The current application process asks freshmen to list their top five dorm preferences. Once the housing office gathers this information, it uses the preferences to place students into dorms.

The two NU departments are also currently looking at RoomSync, a Facebook application that allows students to choose their own roommates.

“It interfaces with our housing management system, but there are other permutations we’d have to figure out, for instance, if a student doesn’t have a Facebook,” Payne-Kirchmeier said.

She said a possibility for students who do not use Facebook would be to manually fill out RoomSync questions, but the staff is still looking into that option. The goal is to make the housing process as student-friendly as possible, Payne-Kirchmeier said.

Communication freshman Adam King said he thought the process of registering for a dorm last summer was very quick, but could have been more specific.

“I think almost any system would be better than what we have,” King said. “I think focus should be less on the building, but more on the roommate or the features and location of the building.”

Weinberg freshman Supriya Bharati got the chance to live in her first-choice housing option, Willard Residential College. However, she chose to live in North Mid-Quads after deciding Willard was not suited for her.

“When I got here, I realized the dorms were not what I wanted,” Bharati said. “I wish there were personal anecdotes of students who lived there because house heads give us the wrong impression by promoting their dorms.”

Payne-Kirchmeier said NU has not officially decided on a new housing application process.

“We’d love it (if) we could launch it for this incoming class, but if not, we definitely want this online for 2013,” Payne-Kirchmeier said.

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