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SMC modifies spring room selection process

Bridget Feeney | Friday, April 8, 2011

As the end of the semester quickly approaches, members of the Saint Mary’s community finalized their housing plans for the fall semester this week.

Each student is assigned a lottery number in March to pick rooms in early April, beginning with rising seniors and concluding with rising sophomores.

Freshman Kat Sullivan chose a room in Regina Hall for her sophomore year Wednesday.

“For a lot of people, room selection defines what your year will be like,” Sullivan said. “Where you live, if you’re near friends, if you have a good roommate — those are all issues important to people.”

She said the small size of the Saint Mary’s campus makes it easy to see friends who live in different dorms, so living in different locations does not present a major issue.

But the Department of Residence Life and Community Standards (DRLCS) has altered the room selection procedure within the past year, Janielle Tchakerian, assistant vice president for student affairs and director of DRLCS, said.


One of these changes is that upperclassmen can no longer reside in McCandless Hall, Tchakerian said. Instead of choosing any one of the four campus residence halls, students wishing to live in McCandless next year will be placed on a waitlist and will not be informed of their housing placement until the summer.

“McCandless is the building that is most conducive to first-year student needs,” Tchakerian said. “We wanted to reserve McCandless for our incoming first years.”

Tchakerian said studies suggest that first years generally experience the same types of issues when they first arrive to college, so having all first-year students in the same building allows them to help each other adjust to college life and helps the College better address their needs.

Last year, DRLCS also removed the quota system that was previously used to fill up rooms in the residence halls and set aside specific rooms for first-year students, Tchakerian said.

While the majority of first-year students will live in McCandless next year, Opus Hall will continue to be open only to seniors. The independent hall offers highly coveted apartment-style doubles and quads to 72 seniors each year, and residents are chosen through a lottery.

Junior Catherine Swanson applied to live in Opus, but her lottery number was not chosen.

“I was definitely frustrated because I realized how few living opportunities are available for seniors,” she said. ” Even though Annunciata Hall is another option for only seniors, we are at the age where we want to live with less rules and be more independent, like we will be when we graduate.”

Both Swanson and Sullivan said the room selection process should be completed electronically to improve efficiency. Sullivan also said the room selection process should be explained more thoroughly to underclassmen prior to selecting rooms.

Tchakerian said DRLCS is aware that some students may be unhappy with their living situation for next year. She suggested alternatives to expressing complaints in order to improve their respective situations, including limiting priorities in terms of room amenities like closet space and overall area.

Tchakerian also said that students who are not satisfied with their hall choice may be placed on a waitlist for their first-choice dorm. She suggested students make the most of their residence hall experience regardless of their individual situations.

“I also encourage them [students] to give the new experience the opportunity to work and to go in with an open mind,” Tchakerian said. “A different building, room type or roommate doesn’t necessarily mean a bad experience, but it will be a negative experience if that is your mindset.”