The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Facebook, way to ‘meet’ new roommate

Theresa Civantos | Friday, September 14, 2007

As the Office of Residence Life and Housing set up housing arrangements for nearly 2,000 freshmen this summer, they received a few unusual phone calls – parents who, after seeing the Facebook profile of their child’s future roommate, wanted the selection changed.

“We receive two or three such calls every year,” said Scott Kachmarik, associate director for the Office of Residence Life and Housing.

“People think they know their roommates based on a Facebook profile, and they make judgments before even meeting,” he said.

These calls are not purely the result of Facebook’s growing popularity, Kachmarik said.

“It’s been going on for eight or nine years,” he said. “Even before Facebook, judgments would be made based on web pages or e-mails. In the old days it was phone calls.”

But Kachmarik cautioned against asking for a roommate change before meeting a person.

“You really can’t judge a person by what’s on Facebook,” Kachmarik said. “People tend to boast more, to try to be something they’re not. … A parent may complain that a roommate is ‘too much of a partier’, and I tell them, ‘That may have been the student’s high school graduation party. It may have been the only time he’s had alcohol in his life.’ You really can’t go by what’s there.”

For this reason, Kachmarik said, Residence Life would not allow roommate changes based on perceptions formed by Facebook pages.

For some students, going on Facebook made their transition into college easier, since they could “meet” friends before arriving on campus.

“Making friends with my roommates on Facebook over the summer helped me a lot,” freshman Erin McNeill said. “I was way less nervous. It gave me a sense of what I was going into.”

Freshman Anna Hing said she spends about two hours a day on Facebook, and used it this summer to get to know her roommates before she met them during Freshman Orientation.

“Contacting someone over Facebook is easier than over an awkward phone conversation,” she said.

Students were able to meet plenty of classmates besides their roommates via the Facebook group, “Notre Dame Class of 2011.”

Getting to know future classmates over Facebook was not possible for freshmen of years past, however, who instead relied on the freshman photo directory, more commonly known as the “Dogbook,” to scope out their future classmates at Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross.

Although Facebook has become the most popular way of contacting future roommates, the number of Dogbooks sold each year has not changed, said Valerie Tanke of Walsworth Publishing Company, which publishes the Dogbook.

 “I have not noticed a change in sales,” Tanke said, although she said she also has a Facebook page.