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Room picks present challenges at College, University

Lisa Gallagher | Monday, April 10, 2006

The looming stress of upcoming finals and projects is nothing compared the anxiety of the room selection process for many Saint Mary’s students.

“This is the worst part of the year,” junior Alison Golubski said. “I’m hot, sweaty, nervous and stressed.”

Golubski’s sense of stress is familiar amongst most Saint Mary’s students who made their final housing decisions in last week’s room selection process. Upon paying their $250 housing deposit fee, students in each class are assigned a random lottery number that determines their room selection order.

“All students who have paid their housing deposit on time are entered into the computer by class year,” Saint Mary’s Director of Residence Life Michelle Russell said. “Then the computer randomly assigns each student a lottery number which we [publicly] post.”

According to Russell, rising fifth year students and seniors kicked off the selection process last Monday, having the option to choose to live in any of College’s dorm rooms. After they make their selection, Russell said she determines quotas for the number of rising juniors and sophomores who will be permitted to live in each of the College’s four residence halls.

“Quotas exist because the College believes in integrated living,” Russell said. “We want, as much as possible, to have each hall be representative of the entire student body.”

Russell said she determines the quotas by dividing the number of rooms available in each residence hall number by the percentage of rising juniors and sophomores she deems appropriate to live there.

First year student Meg Frechette said Holy Cross Hall was the most desirable dorm to live in for the 2006-07 school year.

“All our friends are living there and its filling up really fast,” Frechette said.

Sophomore Siobhan Lezynski said she ended up with her sixth room choice overall, deeming it not “ideal, but still good.”

“There was no tear shed this year, so that’s a good sign,” Lezynski said. “It’s always painful when it gets down to those last few remaining room [choices].”

Russell said she empathizes with the room selection troubles.

“I think the inability to control what is happening is what causes students’ frustration,” she said.

Russell said she realizes students can become frustrated easily during room selection process “because they want to live close to friends and have a nice room in a certain hall.”

She advises students to go into the process with “an open mind” and realize that with a random process it is impossible for students to know how everything will work out.

“Realizing that it may not go exactly how you hoped it would … doesn’t mean it will be terrible,” Russell said.

She said subtle changes to the process have been made over the years to make it both student-friendly and more efficient.

This year, Russell said, is the first Saint Mary’s will use computers to enter housing information.

She anticipates the computers “will allow us to have more accurate and immediate feedback on what spaces are still available” for students who have yet to choose their rooms for the fall semester.

“[The new system] will also help students receive their mailbox and phone numbers sooner,” Russell said.

For the most part, student responses to these changes have been positive. Junior Alanna Chiefari said she noticed the process seemed more organized than in previous years.

“I thought it went really smoothly,” she said. “There were signs directing us where to go, and when we went to sign our contracts [staff members] were all sitting at computers.”

Lezynski also said the computer-operated system cut down on room selection complexities.

“The staff did a good job of making everything run smoothly,” she said. “I thought it went very well and it was pretty quick.”

For students who are unhappy with their future living arrangements, a wait list will be available in September, Russell said. She said housing problems would be resolved within the first three weeks of classes.

Prior to the room selection process, Russell encourages students to have a list of alternate rooms or living situations and also encourages students to be prepared.

“Make sure you really understand the process before going through it,” Russell said.