Students are adapting well to the new preference-based computer system after rising seniors applied for on-campus housing last week, said Seth Weinshel, assignments director of GW Housing Programs.
Whereas students previously chose available rooms during time slots governed by randomly assigned numbers, the new assignment system called iHousing uses a computer program to make assignments based on individual preferences of buildings, room sizes and roommates.
“We’ve done everything we need to do to make the system as not confusing as possible,” Weinshel said. “We haven’t heard people say ‘This was hard to figure out.'”
Although the process is different from what students have experienced in the past, Weinshel said students shouldn’t be confused as iHousing is a very similar system to freshman housing selection. About 80 percent of rising seniors completed online housing applications last week. The other 20 percent are either planning to live off campus or failed to complete their forms on time.
Weinshel added that GW Housing Programs has dedicated many hours toward educating students on the new system. He said students that are constantly in contact with other students, such as Residential Property Management staff and members of the Student Association, all received training on the new program.
GW Housing Programs recommends students choose at least five preferences. Most students have chosen five to seven, but preferences can range from one to 17.
On March 29, most students applying for on-campus housing will receive an assignment. Some students, however, will be placed on a wait list because the computer system could not match an available room with their preferences.
Rising sophomores not receiving a housing assignment go onto a guaranteed wait list because of a zoning agreement requiring all underclassmen to be housed on campus. Weinshel said he does not expect there to be a wait list for rising sophomores, but it is a possibility. He said he expects a non-guaranteed wait list for rising upperclassmen.
Weinshel was also confident that GW Housing Programs will be able to find assignments for upperclassmen on the non-guaranteed wait list that includes students wanting to live on campus. He said that 90 percent of students who did not get an initial assignment last year were placed in housing.
Many of those who were not placed simply had unrealistic standards, Weinshel added. “(If) they only want to live in a single with (a) kitchen, we’ll most likely be unable to accommodate them,” he said.
One of the organizations that worked to get the University’s housing assignment system changed is the Residence Hall Association, a student group that works with GW Housing Programs. RHA President Hayley Haldeman said she has heard mostly good things from students.
“For the most part a lot of the people that I’ve talked to have said more or less it’s pretty easy,” Haldeman, a sophomore, said. “I think in general there is sort of a wave of calm about this.”
She added that students wishing to guarantee their top choice can participate in the Martha’s Marathon housing number raffle and auction Friday. The No. 1 and 2 assignments will be raffled off and assignments three through five will be auctioned to the highest bidder. The computer assignment system has been programmed to assign those who win the raffles and auctions in order and then process the rest of the students’ requests.
Last year’s highest bid last year was $7,000, Haldeman said.
Haldeman said she and other members of the RHA have been getting the word out to students to choose many preferences in order to allow the system to work well.
Rising senior Emily Narkis said she favors the new system because she doesn’t have any specific roommate preferences.
“I didn’t really have a lot of people I wanted to live with, so this system is better for that,” she said.
Narkis said the previous system didn’t stress her out more; it just took longer to get her assignment.
Even though junior David Margules had a group of roommates arranged, he said he wasn’t concerned that he’d be worse off with the new system. He said he and his three friends chose the recommended seven preferences even though it meant choosing rooms he wasn’t interested in.
“They said seven choices so that’s what we did. I don’t think they’re going to use it against me,” Margules said.