Students come to live on campus from all over the country, and it can be a nerve-wracking experience.
If worries about money, stereo equipment and refrigerators weren’t enough, there is, of course, the roommate: a person with whom to share the same 20 cubic feet of living space for an entire year (not to mention the bathroom).
Some institutions such as Kennesaw State University and University of Tennessee are trying to make things easier on students and themselves.
Using online systems like WebRoomz, students who are accepted into the school fill out a detailed survey and are matched with potentially compatible roommates.
“It makes sense,” Tara Shane, a sophomore film major, said, “because I know a lot of people who had really bad experiences with roommates their first semester.”
Control is given to students which could potentially save universities a great deal of time and money.
All rooms could be filled without having to do any paper work, and if students already know who their roommates are, it could potentially reduce the number of room changes and complaints.
Although the system appears beneficial on the surface, Dr. Robert Redick, Director of Residence Halls, explained that UM tried out a similar approach 15 years ago with little success.
“When I first heard about this system, I was very interested; however, upon closer examination, there is no proof that it works any better than random selection.,” said Redick. “How do you determine how many questions have to add up for there to be a match?
“No matter how compatible someone seems on paper, there are always variables,” he said.
Financial aspects can also be handled through WebRoomz. Students can pay their room and board online with a credit card as well as purchase meal plans and parking decals.
This raises the question of equity. Not all incoming students have access to the same resources.
“Not only would this program obligate freshmen to do more things and fill out more paperwork that UM can do for them, but it also assumes that all students have internet access, which they don’t,” Mike Johnston, Student Government President, said. “You have to think globally. There are 140 countries represented at UM, and not all people have access to, or can afford the Internet.”
College life is full of diversity and new experiences, and some believe that picking a roommate from a compatibility list would spoil that aspect.
“People don’t have to be alike to get along,” Redick said. “If this were truly a good system, people would fill out surveys to get married. Here at UM, people are free to change rooms, but it is a much more adult and humane way of dealing with problems.
“People are diverse and changing, which is the beauty of being human. By trying to match people on a 30 question form denies that.”