Mixed reviews on 2017-2018 housing selection process

Mamta Badlani, Senior Writer

This year’s housing selection process was characterized by the introduction of a new online system and the uncommon event of some rising seniors being assigned to live in Bucknell West, which are residences traditionally occupied by sophomores and juniors.

This spring, Housing Services launched an online system for selecting housing, with the intended goal of streamlining the selection process. This process was once conducted via paper slips delivered to students’ mailboxes and an in-person selection process, whereas the new process consists of an online portal and specific dates and time slots to choose their future rooms online.

According to the Director of Housing Services Stephen Apanel, this process provides students with a more specific selection time that accommodates seven male and seven female students per slot, which allows students to select housing online in a matter of seconds.

“I like the system being online instead of how it used to be when we had to go in person. It seems a lot more streamlined,” Abby Byrnes ’19 said.

Under the new system, the difference between who gets a desired room could be a matter of seconds, but the company who provided the University with the product, as well as other institutions currently using the software, have reassured Apanel that this is not an issue and Housing Services has not yet received complaints from students, according to Apanel.

Daniella Kotowitz ’18, a rising senior, was assigned to live in Bucknell West next year.

“I’m definitely not happy about being in the Mods. I feel like I’m downgrading from sophomore and junior year. I had singles in convenient locations then. I hope that my roommates and I get switched to either a senior apartment or gateway,” Kotowitz said.

Apanel offered several options for students unhappy with their assigned space. If a student already has an assignment but would prefer a different residence, they can apply to upgrade. Upgrade results are released in July. For the rising seniors stuck in Bucknell West, an upgrade may allow them to switch to a South Campus Apartment or Gateway.

“I thought applying for an upgrade was really easy and simple, I just wish you knew how likely it was to be fulfilled and that you found out earlier in the summer,” Byrnes said.

Alternatively, students who were unable to select any housing can put themselves on a waitlist, which will enter them into another housing selection in July. A third option is what Apanel referred to as “Shop n’ Swap.” Students can advertise their spaces and switch with another student. This will be structured through myHOME and go live in August.

Kotowitz expressed her feelings of dissatisfaction towards the system.

“I think it’s ridiculous seniors aren’t guaranteed an apartment or Gateway. I wonder if this is because fewer seniors are getting off-campus housing. As for being on the waitlist, I wish there was more transparency about which spot on the waitlist you are, and I wish we could find out if our upgrade was approved sooner. It’s frustrating that we have to wait until summer,” Kotowitz said.

Several rising seniors will be receiving notifications this summer that their upgrade requests have been fulfilled. According to Apanel, there are a few male apartments left in the South Campus Apartments, and should they remain unfilled, Housing Services will make adjustments to the designated sexes of the empty spaces to match interest after housing selection has been completed.

However, rising seniors are not the only students upset with their selection results.

“I’m not happy where I ended up. I wanted a single, as I was able to have as a sophomore, and did not get one,” Byrnes said, who had the first time slot available to rising juniors.

When asked about any rumors on plans by the administration to limit off-campus housing, Apanel responded that he had not currently heard of any plans to do so. He explained that should the University do so, campus would require more housing to accommodate the number of students living on campus in the fall, as less students are on campus in the spring semesters due to study abroad programs.

Apanel also dispelled a rumor that often floats around during room selection. The assignment of lottery numbers for rising sophomores is randomly distributed and attendance of First-year Integration Series (FYIS) during the first year plays no role in the time slot a student receives.

Incoming first years for the 2017-2018 school year will be assigned to McDonnell, Swartz, Smith, and Vedder Halls. Rising sophomores in the general lottery were able to select from Roberts, Trax, Larison, Harris, Smith, McDonnell, and Kress Halls, as well as Bucknell West. Options available to rising juniors included Bucknell West, Gateways, Swartz, and McDonnell Halls. Rising seniors ended up in either Swartz or McDonnell Halls, the Gateways, South Campus Apartments, or Bucknell West.

There will be an advisory board meeting in the fall 2017 semester to provide feedback to Housing Services on this past room selection. The board will consist of students with a range of housing assignments, including Greek Life, general housing selection, affinity housing, alumni residential colleges, and residential advising. Bucknell Student Government (BSG) will also be working with Housing Services to create a survey to gather student responses to changes in housing selection.

There will be information sessions about the room selection process on Tuesday, April 25 and Wednesday, April 26 at 5 pm in the ELC Forum.

When asked what changes Housing Services should apply to future residential selection, Byrnes voiced her support for the University to offer more housing options.

“I’d like to see better housing options and more options for each class, as well as more flexibility if there aren’t any options for your class year. I know we did not have access to singles as juniors, and I think that’s unfair when you can easily get a single as a sophomore and you would assume you get better amenities and housing opportunities as you become an upperclassman,” Byrnes said.

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