Usually around this time of year many students are dusting off their tents in order to camp out in front of Resident Housing Office [RHO] for housing sign-ups. This semester, they can keep them stored away in their closets. The Department of Residence Halls plans to unveil its new online housing sign-up method Feb. 14.
The online method will be the only way for returning on-campus residents to sign up for housing for the 2004-2005 school year, and, according to organizers, it’s virtually foolproof.
To access the sign-up web page, a student gets on the Internet and logs on to the EASY system. In the EASY system, the student clicks on “Student Menu” tab, where he or she can choose to sign up for housing and view the housing agreement and rates.
Each student is assigned a housing sign-up code, which allows another student to choose him or her as a roommate or suitemate. In addition, every student also has a sign-up appointment time.
Students who want to be roommates or suitemates can sign up together online as soon as either of the students’ appointment time arrives.
The major advantage of online housing sign-ups is the absence of the traditional long lines at the RHO, located on the first floor of Eaton Residential College.
Other advantages include a visual layout of every floor of every dorm, so students can see where each room number is located, or how close they are to a fire escape – or an RA. They can also see whether the view out their window is a parking lot or a volleyball court. Students can search the site for available rooms by clicking pictures of the dorms they might like to live in, then selecting a floor, then a room.
After selecting a room and possibly roommates or suitemates, students electronically accept the terms of the housing agreement and pay the $250 housing deposit.
Although it may sound complicated, RHO promises the system will be easier and less time-consuming than signing up in person.
“I hope it will be better than last year,” Elizabeth Rodney, sophomore and Stanford resident, said. “If it’s really as easy as clicking a mouse and there are no lines involved, it’s all good.”
Weekend 1: Feb. 14-15
Single Room Sign-Up Period
Weekend 2: Feb. 21-22
Same Room Sign-Up Period in Double Rooms Suites/Apartments
Weekend 3: Feb. 28-29
New Room Sign-Up Period
Weekend 4: Mar. 6-7
Late Sign-Up and Change Period
Technical support will be available over the phone or in person at RHO. The sign-up system is on the University mainframe, so, like every other major program on the mainframe, including EASY, it has four backup systems to keep it up and running.
“It sounds like the online system is going to have a lot more info,” Christina Malone, sophomore, said. “Plus, I won’t feel rushed to get through the housing line and I won’t miss classes.”
“I like being able to see the floor plan before I pick a room,” Georgia Lee, freshman, said. “I’m shooting for a single on an upper floor.”
Although the online system should make sign-ups much more efficient, it doesn’t create any more of the highly coveted single rooms.
Shelly Steele, a Stanford RA, hopes that the online system will make her job easier when incoming freshmen will also be allowed to use the online method to choose their rooms.
“Next year when freshmen can use the system, they can see what their dorm looks like inside and out,” Steele said. “Anytime new students can be more prepared for what college will be like, my job as an RA gets a little bit easier.”
Steele would love to see floors in the towers themed towards the residents’ interests, such as an athletics floor, music floor, Greek floor, and others. However, this idea has not been mentioned by RHO as a possibility.
Officials at RHO advise students not to give out their housing sign-up codes to someone they do not plan to live with, as only one person can reserve you as a roommate at a time.
The housing section of the UM website also contains a page of information about off-campus housing, including names, locations and contact information of nearby apartment complexes.
“The whole system is pretty idiot-proof,” Steele said. “Well, maybe. . . ”
Jaclyn Lisenby can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.