Mac users unable to use iHousing

The University’s online housing application system will pose problems for Apple computer users, a group that accounts for about one-third of GW’s student population.

When GW Housing Programs switched from the lottery system to the new iHousing system last year, it did so as a reflection of student desire for an easier, more accessible housing registration method.

But the program was designed to work specifically on a version of Internet Explorer only available to users of the Microsoft Windows computer operating system. Macs operate with Internet browsers such as Safari or Firefox, neither of which is compatible with the iHousing application.

The University was aware of this flap before it purchased the software.

“The best advice that I can give is to have students not use Macs and come to (GW Housing Programs), a friend’s computer or a computer lab, to make sure that the application goes through correctly,” said Seth Weinshel, a director of housing.

Weinshel said RMS, the company who created the iHousing program, is aware of its Internet browser compatibility problems and has created an update that will allow Mac users to access the application in the future.

“The patch is available and we will update the system most likely in March,” Weinshel said.

GW Housing Programs reminded students of the problem in an e-mail with instructions for using the iHousing system. The e-mail stated that students “MUST use Internet Explorer to access the GW Housing portal correctly.”

“When I got to the (Web) page, I tried to start applying and it wouldn’t let me select an option. When I clicked on the boxes they were blank. I couldn’t go any further than that,” freshman Grace Romanowsky said. “I sat on my computer for more than an hour trying to do it on Safari, and then Firefox, and restarting my computer, but it didn’t make a difference.”

Representatives from Student Technology Services said the number of Mac users at GW has risen significantly in the past few years.

“Of course the absolute numbers of Macs and Windows machines change almost daily as people buy new machines of each type . (but the currently high) level of Mac usage has been a very recent trend,” said Ron Boning, vice president and chief information officer of ISS. “A few years ago the number of Macs arriving with the freshman class was . 6 or 7 percent.”

Though Weinshel said iHousing’s Internet compatibility problem will be resolved by the time students register for housing next year, but many students have already become frustrated with the system.

“If you look around at a classroom, you’ll see that about half the students are using Macs,” said freshman Alex Holt said. “I think it’s absurd to say you should go to the library or use a friend’s computer to (register for housing).”

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