It’s no secret that an enjoyable living situation can make or break someone’s college experience. This sentiment can spark some nerves for Fairfield University students as the yearly housing lottery approaches.

Not only does this anxiety stem from the desire to choose quality roommates, but the process can be overwhelming due to all of the steps required, especially for first-year students. 

There are also multiple housing locations to choose from, adding even more layers to the decision-making process. 

To be fair, this is not solely a Fairfield issue. In all facets of life and at all universities, choosing where to live, and who to live with, for a prolonged period of time is not meant to be a simple experience.  

One perk of Fairfield University is that “housing is guaranteed for four years to all full-time, matriculated undergraduate students”, according to the Office of Residence Life. 

The University, with the assistance of Residence Life, also makes a concerted effort to ensure that sufficient updates about the housing process are given to students. This allows them to have enough time to prepare and utilize the available resources for making their decisions.

These resources include the Roommate Finder Form, the Housing Director with all of the necessary information, and the Roommate Selection Portal.

The University’s efforts are certainly evident and appreciated by many. However, as with most things, there is always room for improvement and questioning.  

One major issue that was present in past years was the implementation of forced triple rooms on campus due to a housing shortage. According to an article from The Fairfield Mirror in Sept. 2021, “nearly 16 percent of first years living on campus are in rooms converted from the standard doubles to triples.” It is difficult to imagine this being enjoyable for both the students that were living in these as well as the administration fielding complaints.  

The construction of Bowman Hall in 2023 and other on-campus projects have aimed to address this issue, but how can the administration make sure these issues don’t recur with the undergraduate classes continuing to rise every year? This is certainly a question for the University to consider as it assesses its incoming classes.

In addition to this dilemma, while first-year housing is not exactly meant to provide the most luxurious living experience, the discussion about randomization when it comes to choosing housing locations and roommates is another important topic.

In a 2019 article from The Atlantic, Carlos Gonalez, Executive Director of Residential Services at Northwestern, believes “the primary objective of randomizing roommate selection for first-year students is to have them ‘transcend their comfort zone—by engaging with people, disciplines, and ideas that diverge from what they are used to.’”

Not every school adopts this method of pairing roommates, but it could be worthwhile for the University to get a gauge of student satisfaction regarding its hands-on approach to pairings for first-year dorms, as well as its effectiveness in fostering friendships throughout college rather than allowing students to choose their own roommates. This could be done with modalities such as anonymous surveys and data research.

While Fairfield does a commendable job at providing the most guidance possible throughout this process, all of these points are going to need to be addressed adequately as the school continues to grow. 

It is important to acknowledge the inconvenient reality that the housing process is never going to be a perfect formula, especially when trying to accommodate thousands of students and their living arrangements. 

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