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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Unviversity housing moves online to facilitate student need

Published: February 28, 2014
Section: News

’Tis the season for frantic upperclassmen, broken friendships and student Facebook statuses that read, “May the housing odds be ever in your favor.” Housing numbers for the 2014-2015 school year were announced last week, with the lottery set to take place from Mar. 9-13 for rising sophomores and Mar. 16-21 for upperclassmen. This year, Brandeis has implemented one major change to this frenzied process: It is now online.

“Our students are very comfortable with technology, so moving room selection online like course registration and so many other processes made sense for us. Overall our goal is to make the process easier and less stressful for students,” said Sarah Hogan-Crowley, assistant director for operations in community living.

Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel stated that Brandeis has been seeking a sufficient housing module for a number of years.

“Brandeis is unusual in lacking a robust housing data system,” said Flagel. “Such systems are routine at most universities, and I am not aware of significant issues that have arisen as a result of using such systems, beyond the kind of errors that are just as common in manual systems.”

Both Flagel and Hogan-Crowley do not expect major problems to result from this switch to an online system. The system is powered by Adirondack Solutions, a software provider with many clients much larger than Brandeis.

“They have much larger clients than us with many more students on campus and they successfully handle the network traffic from them, so we’re confident they can handle the traffic from Brandeis,” said Hogan-Crowley. She also said that the Department of Community Living (DCL) has worked with Library & Technology Services to ensure there will be no Internet outages during room selection.

“The only drawback of the system is that there is a learning curve. We want everyone to feel comfortable with the system before room selection starts,” said Hogan-Crowley.

She said that DCL has held many workshops and meetings regarding room selection, to make switching systems easier for the student body. The DCL office will also remain open during room selection, so students can come and ask questions if need be.

“The big change is that students need to form their roommate groups ahead of time in the system,” warns Hogan-Crowly. “Students can request other students they know, or they can use the advanced roommate search option to find other students looking for similar housing situations.”

Other changes include the fact that as of press time, study abroad students were included in the traditional junior-senior lottery for the first time. “For students planning to study abroad in Spring 2015: You are currently in the Junior/Senior Room Selection process. When the Office of Study Abroad provides us with a list of students approved to study abroad you on March 5th will automatically be removed from the Junior/Senior process and placed in a separate Study Abroad Room Selection,” states the DCL website. This choice affects the lottery system, as student’s numbers may improve once study abroad students are removed from the traditional upperclassman lottery.

Hogan-Crowley excitedly informs students that room selection this year should only take about three quick clicks.

“While many of the efficiencies created by using such systems may not be readily visible to students, they includes moving room rosters and maintenance to online rather than manual/paper-based systems,” said Flagel.

The fact that the system is easier for students who are abroad is another factor.

“Of course, students have a much easier time accessing online systems for housing, just as they do for course registration and other functional processes at universities, rather than waiting in lines for room assignments,” said Flagel.

While the online housing process may make room selection quicker and easier, it still remains no less painful for students with high numbers who need to look off campus, or students left out of “roommate groups.”