One of the most influential aspects of your college years is what your experience with housing is like. Fairfield offers a wide array of different types of accommodations, including communal dorms, suite-style, townhouses and apartments.
As a first-year who was given a round one lottery number, Thursday, March 23 was the day my group was to choose our building for next year. Prior to the day we actually selected our rooms, I was nervous about what the lottery process entailed and what my experience with it was going to be despite upper-classmen resolving my initial fears over the process by recounting their positive experience. Through my experience with determining housing for sophomore year, however, I found that there are ways to make the housing process less intimidating if you are willing to seek it out.
This past year I was placed in a forced triple, so I was told my group would be given priority housing for next year. For most of the year, I was left uncertain about how this promised priority housing would pan out. Since it seemed like so many freshmen were placed in forced triples, I was nervous about whether or not the designation would really impact anything. Luckily, for my group, it meant we were given a round-one pick at a relatively early timeslot.
However, I do know other students who were placed in forced triples and given considerably later times. Since two of the girls in my group (myself included) were given priority status, I think our chances were substantially increased which gave us the earlier time slot. However, it is not realistic to think that most groups would have two members with priority designation. I would argue that in the future, it would be more beneficial for Residence Life to communicate that priority housing does not equate to priority choice for buildings, and it rather means that you are just given a “bump” in the lottery.
While there are definitely some downsides to housing at Fairfield, such as disproportionate commutes to academic buildings, inconsistencies in air conditioning and unrenovated buildings, I think it’s favorable for students to really consider their lifestyle choices when selecting a building. It is easy to say that all Fairfield housing is flawed. However, there are ways to limit the number of drawbacks you perceive in your housing experience.
I think the best way for students to come out of the housing process feeling confident in their accommodations and looking forward to the next year is to really consider their lifestyle properties. For people who prefer renovated and more modern buildings, Meditz Hall or Sister Thea Bowman Hall are viable options. Students who are trying to still locate a close-knit and community-oriented residence may find common ground in Langguth Hall. For rising sophomores, Bowman Hall, Meditz and 42 Langguth Road all required applications. Since the acceptance to these buildings is determined much earlier, fewer students register for the regular lottery which I believe to be a positive. If everyone was applying for housing at the same time, and there were no separate applications, the lottery would be even more chaotic. When there is such a wide variety of residence halls that all are considerably different, it is hard not to compare and contrast them. Of course, with the process being managed through a lottery system, sometimes it just comes down to luck.
If I could change anything about the housing selection process, I would choose to alter how timeslots are given out in the first place. Instead of it being a randomized process, it would be more constructive to weigh into what each specific student prefers for amenities of a building. In the process that Residence Life has now, if a student prefers suite-style living and is given a time slot for when all of the suite-style dorms are already taken, their preferences are not being taken into consideration at all. It would be more advantageous for students first to submit what characteristics of a residence hall they see as most important to their experience and then assign time slots along with buildings that represent those particularities.
While peers may say that Fairfield housing has its caveats, for the students who are willing to commit more time to research their options and strategies, housing can be less daunting of a process. After going through the process, I would argue that future first-years should spend additional time reviewing the housing guide booklet, even if it may seem inconsequential.
My group also went to our Area Coordinator a few weeks before the housing process started and she was able to really inform us about the entire process while effectively answering our questions. While I know that some of these factors of housing may appear insignificant to the lottery system, it is always better to exhaust all of your options during a preparatory stage as opposed to regretting not being as committed later on. Taking extra steps during the housing process, such as camping out in the Lower Level Barone Campus Center close to the Residence Life office or in the Area Coordinators office during the day of choosing, will reduce the number of technical complications that may result in complaints over housing selections.
Of course, no matter how a housing selection process is run, there are always going to be complications and problems. I think the best way to mediate some of these issues, perhaps on a small scale, is to ensure you take enough time before the actual selection day to consider all your options and organize your choices.