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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Will online housing selection work?

Published: February 28, 2014
Section: Opinions, Top Stories

It’s that time of year again: housing selection. Every year, housing selection is a huge stress for many Brandeis students—especially for rising juniors and seniors since they are not guaranteed housing. DCL does work very hard to get all students housing regardless of the non-guarantee. Nonetheless, housing selection is still very stressful. It is nerve-wracking to think about the possibility of not getting housing or not getting a residence of our choice. And this year, housing selection will be online for the first time. Instead of going to the Hassenfeld Conference Center during a specific time, we will go on the MyHousing website and click on the housing we want.

This makes the process more convenient as we do not have to go to a designated room and wait a while just to pick housing. Students can now choose their own housing much faster and confirmation can be immediate. However, since this is the first year housing selection is going to be online, students may have concerns regarding the selection, such as the website crashing during their appointment times. DCL has indicated that they have accounted for this and did several test runs on the housing selection website to make sure it does not crash. Even if the MyHousing website does not crash, there are still other concerns about housing selection.

My main concern for online housing selection is that it will be even more stressful because DCL does not update parts of their website. If DCL can’t update their website, could online housing selection be successful? One example of how DCL does not update parts of their website is in the FAQ section of Room Selection. This year, Village and East Hass neighbor pull-ins are no longer available for rising sophomores. However, in the FAQ section of Room Selection, there is a question related to neighbor pull-ins. The question is, Can I choose a single, then pull one person into a double and have Community Living just assign them a random roommate? Including this section on the FAQ is not useful because it no longer applies to this year’s housing selection.

On the “statistics” section of the Room Selection website, DCL provides statistics from the 2011 housing selection. Although these statistics are useful to help gauge where one stands in the housing selection lottery, it is outdated as two housing selections have passed since 2011. DCL could update these housing selection statistics, but does not. DCL mentioned that these statistics are not useful to predict how the housing selection would actually go due to many contributing factors. Even though housing selection does change from year to year, statistics can be helpful for students who want to see where they stand in the lottery. DCL can still provide housing selection statistics from different years and state on their website that students should be aware that many factors go into housing selection and should not rely on the statistics for future housing selections. This way, students can use the statistics with discretion.

Instead of updating housing selection statistics, recently DCL has taken off the Statistics webpage. Even though it is outdated, the 2011 statistics are vital information so that students can consider the history of room selection when planning for this year’s selection. Without these statistics, it will be harder to plan for the housing selection, as no one has an idea of how long certain residences last. This will lead to more stress in students. Although DCL moved housing selection online to make the process easier and quicker, there are still concerns about how successful the online process will be and if it will even make a difference.