During one of the most stressful parts of the semester, Fairfield University students have an added stress to deal with: housing assignments for next year. Though I am a resident assistant, I know just how stressful the trials and tribulations of the housing situation are for both my friends and my residents. Especially for residents looking for gender-neutral housing next semester, looking for housing has been rough. Now moving out of McCormick Hall’s fourth floor, an official gender neutral residency, some sophomores have expressed concern over who they can live with next semester. However, things seem to be looking up for them as they speak with the Office of Residence Life, who has been working tirelessly to make the housing lottery a lot less stressful this time around.

From the perspective of rising juniors and seniors, finding a roommate has been a lot easier than it was last year. Most have assembled a group early on that they planned to live with, but some need extra roommates. Out of curiosity, I went on the Housing Directory, the program used for housing by the Office of Residence Life, and decided to find out how it worked for myself. I found that, had I needed a roommate, it would have been easy for me to find people with similar interests and schedules through this system. Coupled with the function to message students, the entire process seems to be straightforward and easy. Those who I have spoken with on campus also give the Housing Directory shining reviews for the ease of navigation. 

Other than the Housing Directory, a Google Sheet has been emailed to all of the students who are looking for roommates for next semester. The Google Sheet does what the Housing Directory fails to do: it gives a list of people who are actively seeking roommates. The Housing Directory shows everyone who meets your requirements whether or not they have a roommate – in fact, I can search for myself and find that someone could request me as a roommate if they did not know my position. This is not the Housing Directory’s fault, though – since no one has been assigned to rooms, it is impossible for the system to know who has plans to room with who.  This is where the Google Sheet comes in and allows for more insight into roommate selection. I think this is a genius plan that benefits everyone, especially those who are looking for an even number of roommates that just need one more person.

Personally, I remember last semester’s housing situation to be anxiety provoking for my friends. I had sprung the fact that I applied to be an RA about a week or two after we had established our plans to live together. By some stroke of luck, I got the job, leaving them to be forced to go random for their last roommate. Fortunately, this turned out well for them, but the housing lottery is so close to RA decision time that the potential roommates of those who are accepted do not have time to find anyone new. This new system, though, has made it a lot easier and more comforting for most students who are waiting for RA decision letters, for their friends.

From first year students, I have heard that COVID-19 has made it harder for them to make a lot of friends. In my first year, I remember everyone on the first and second floors of my buildings being connected to each other through Living and Learning Communities. This year, I have seen that community in some respects, but when speaking to some residents, it becomes evident that the community that was present in my first year did not carry over. We cannot blame anything but the pandemic for this: RAs are trying their best to put on engaging programs and remain in contact with their residents all while balancing their own studies and extra curriculars, and residents are trying to get involved as much as they can even though there are only a few events that are taking place off of Zoom. Though many restrictions have been lifted this semester, a lot of groups have already been established, and first year students are having a hard time being as connected as I was, even as the most introverted of my friends.

Although picking housing can be stressful, the overall system is well-established and there to support you. There have already been massive improvements from last time, so as time goes on, I think that the roommate selection process will continue to get easier.

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