The students have spoken and the Department of Housing and Residence Life (HRL) has listened. Three new main changes will be implemented for the Seton Hall housing room selection process for the 2016-17 academic year.
Changes for students selecting a room include HRL capping room deposits at 1250 students, there will not be a required minimum amount of priority points for students to pull in a roommate or suitemates, and there will not be specialized lotteries like the fill-a-suite lottery for room selection.
Cheryl McCloskey, assistant director of Housing Operations & Marketing for HRL, said that HRL conducted a focus group on Jan. 20 regarding the room selection process which comprised students of different genders, majors, collegiate years, leadership positions, and students who have and have not participated in previous room selection processes.
“We need student feedback on a major process that involves them so much,” McCloskey said. The bulk of student opinions involved priority points and the housing selection being complicated to understand.
The first change for the process was capping student room deposits at 1250, which was already due by Feb. 28. McCloskey sent an email reminding students of the due date for the non-refundable deposit.
Every year there is a high demand for campus housing, McCloskey said. She said that HRL initially accepts more deposits from students than the 1150 beds that HRL can provide for students. In years past there has historically been a decrease from the amount of students who make deposits and those who move in for the fall semester.
McCloskey said that this “melt” typically comprises 100 to 150 students.
“This happens because people’s financial situations fall through, they choose to study abroad, they put a deposit in as a back-up to getting an apartment off-campus, so naturally we expect a melt,” McCloskey said.
Pat Lawless, a sophomore journalism major, said that capping room deposits at 1250 “makes sense from a school’s perspective because it’s tough when students aren’t sure if they’re coming back.” Lawless is currently a resident of Neumann Hall and plans to reside in Xavier Hall next year.
The “melt” of students did not occur for the fall 2015 semester which led to students being housed at the Talbott Apartments on the Rutgers Newark campus.
“There’s really no scientific way to predict that (men and women students who want housing) other than historical numbers or historical tracking,” McCloskey said. “But if last year taught us anything, history didn’t matter.”
A housing option that may be available for students for the 2016-17 academic year if enough students show interest, according to McCloskey.
Tracy Gottlieb, vice president of Student Services, said that students need to get “their ducks in a row” if they want to return for housing in the fall.
“In order for a student who deposited, and a student who is in good standing, to select a room, they have to be registered for the fall semester,” Gottlieb said. This is to counter those students who have previously made their room deposits and do not return for campus housing the following semester.
The second change to the room selection process is that students with the highest number of priority points of their friends with whom they want to live with can pull them in when selecting a room. Students who want to live together must match as roommates on their housing profiles in SHU Portal under the Profile and Finances tab before selecting a room. Students cannot change their roommates once they have selected a room and if complications arise, students can request a room change in the fall.
McCloskey said that students who want to go into the room selection process alone and do not have requests for roommates will select their rooms at their assigned time of the selection process.
“It’s going to be more front-heavy, it’s more important to have the higher priority points because you want the earlier lottery time,” McCloskey said. “Because as we get through the lottery process, the rooms are going to run out or the pickings are going to be slimmer.”
Student priority points total will be emailed March 16. Appeal can be made on March 17 and March 18.
The third change is that there will be two main lotteries for selecting rooms with the additional lotteries for the Sophomore Discovery Program (SDP) and the Turrell lottery. Room selection instructions will be emailed on March 23.
Available upperclassmen halls can be selected by students in the two lotteries that will be held. Students with 30 to 40 priority points will select their rooms first, followed by students with fewer than 30 priority points.
Housing lotteries will take place for students with 30-40 priority points from April 12 to April 15. Students with less than 30 priority points will have their room selection process from April 19 to April 22.
Xavier Hall (excluding the SDP wing), Complex and Ora Manor students who have at least 30 priority points and wish to retain their beds at their current residence hall can do so on April 7 and 8.
Leah Meissner, a freshman math major, who participated in the Jan. 20 focus group, said that she likes the three main changes HRL has made.
After hearing what upperclassmen focus group participants had to say about previous years’ room selection processes Meissner said that, “I like the changes they’ve made, I think that it’s going to be more fair now and easier for people who want to room together to be able to do that.”
Priority points matter for all upperclassmen campus housing including Serra, Cabrini, Xavier, Neumann halls, and off-campus Ora Manor. Boland and Aquinas halls will be available only for new students housing for the next academic year. Portions of either Serra or Neumann halls will also see a population of new students depending on the priority point totals and interest of the current student population in those buildings.
HRL has to match the amount of beds available for upperclassmen as it does for new students. 1150 beds are to be reserved for upperclassmen, and 1250 for new students which can include freshmen and transfer students. There are 2400 beds available to students in campus housing altogether, according to McCloskey.
Students interested in living in Turrell Manor had to apply since it is servant leadership housing by Feb. 28 along with their accommodating housing deposits.
Upperclassmen halls, first year area, and off-campus housing information sessions were held this past week on campus and in the Ora Manor Community Room from March 7 to March 9 for students interested in SHU housing.
“Room selection, you get one shot. We’re going to give this a try, we’re going to hear and listen to every ounce of feedback that we get from students through it, and we’re going to try it again for next year,” McCloskey said.
Leah Carton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org