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Online housing selection comes with its share of potential problems

Published: January 17, 2014
Section: Editorials


The Department of Community Living recently announced that housing selection, a rather tense yearly ritual for Brandeisians, will be moved entirely online starting this year. The Community Living website boasts that “You will no longer need to appear at a certain day and time to select your room” and outlines five easy steps students should take in order to secure housing. While The Hoot commends Brandeis on attempting to make a tedious process move smoother and more quickly, we are unsure that Brandeis has thought out all of the potential problems that could arise.

In moving housing selection online, Brandeis certainly pleases one subset of the student body: those who are traveling abroad. Students who normally would have to worry about securing housing through their friends while they reside in Italy or Spain will now be capable of picking Mods or Ridgewood while sitting in their dorm abroad. Brandeis may also save money, as they will not have to pay Community Advisors and staff members to work long hours this coming March.

Perhaps the looming potential problem most present in the mind of the student body is that the online housing website will crash. After struggles with Sage over the past couple of years when students attempted to sign up for classes, students are not willing to risk their top-choice housing because of some website glitch.

Assuming that Brandeis has foreseen all technical problems, there are other potential issues on the horizon. The Community Living website states that Step 2 is to check the box on Sage electing on-campus housing, Step 3 is “form friend groups,” Step 4 is “make multiple plans,” and Step 5 is participate in room selection. But what if one student believes he or she is housing with a friend, but then the friend puts down another name while filling out the online form? Online forums allow anonymity and backstabbing that may result in the end of more friendships than the housing process normally does. There is also a higher potential for error. If a student accidentally clicks one more down arrow then they meant to, they could wind up in North instead of the Mods.

We applaud Brandeis for its efforts to make the housing process easier, but we are not sure that it will take just five easy steps.