Gates: Class of 2018 deserves a clearer housing process


Matt Gates, Columnist

For the Northwestern class of 2018, choosing a college probably seemed like the biggest decision they would ever have to make. They made a great choice, but the thing about college is that the school is only the first in a long, long line of choices. Where to live is the next choice incoming freshman will have to make.

My friends have all agreed that where they live has helped to define their freshman year experience. Your dorm determines who many of your friends will be, what dining hall you’ll eat in most of the time and whether or not getting to Tech will be a hike during Winter Quarter. But choosing a dorm as a freshman is no easy task. North Campus or South Campus? (What if I’m a Medill premed?) Res college or dorm? (What’s the difference?) Should I look for a roommate on Facebook or Roomsync? (How does Roomsync even match us?)

The housing process is inherently a stressful one. But I was not alone in finding that the housing process for the class of 2017 was even more stressful than expected. The University needs to communicate more clearly with the class of 2018 about the housing process in order for the next generation of Wildcats to start their college experience off on the right paw.

The class of 2017 Facebook page was left filled with frantic comments from people searching for last-minute roommates after the University informed us shortly before the process started that those among us who had not chosen a roommate would automatically choose housing after anyone who had, regardless of priority number. By not making it clear earlier that “going random” – meaning that we would choose half of a room and be at the mercy of whoever chose the other half – would disadvantage us in getting into our desired dorm, NU made the housing process unnecessarily stressful.

The desire for pairs to select rooms prior to individuals for logistical purposes is understandable. While information about the housing process is available online, efforts should be made to make sure it is directly given and explained to freshmen, who by their nature, lack experience with college housing.

The process last year seemed to change each week, making the class of 2017 confused before it ever even made it to Tech auditorium. Providing clear and complete instructions as to how to navigate the housing process that are also consolidated to one location could avoid the confusion that surrounded the housing process for this year’s freshman class.

But the class of 2018 should know that no matter where they end up living, their freshman experience at NU will be great. Allison might be quite the hike to Tech, but friendships are forged by trudging through the snow after the shuttle fills up. Bobb might never be quiet, but at least it will encourage you to put your work down for a bit. Willard may be off the map, but Fran’s is a great place to meet up with friends. Getting placed in a dorm you didn’t want won’t ruin your freshman experience, but having a housing process that is easy to navigate will start the class of 2018 out on the right foot.

Matt Gates is a Weinberg freshman. He can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a letter to the editor to [email protected].