Saige Saunig: Specifics are key in a roomie search

The time that brings both nervous anticipation and excitement is soon to be upon us: filing for next semester’s housing.

For those who do not request to live with a specific person, the University determines roommate selection based on a short living-preferences survey that students fill out upon filing for housing.

The survey that GW Housing Programs currently uses to pair up roommates contains flaws that have, in many ways, rendered it ineffective. Students are asked about their basic living habits, such as whether they are a morning or a night person.

Yet it does not ask for specifics that are crucial in determining roommate compatibility, such as the specific times that students go to bed and wake up in the morning. It also does not allow students to elaborate on their answers, such as saying that bedtimes differ on a daily basis. Similarly, what one person considers a “clean” style of living might be seen as unacceptably filthy to his or her roommate. This survey’s vagueness makes it difficult for GW Housing Programs to know if it is correctly pairing up roommates.

The survey lacks some crucial questions that can greatly influence roommate compatibility, specifically questions pertaining to drug use. Of course, it is understandable why GW has chosen to omit these questions. These types of behaviors are not tolerated in GW residence halls.

However, it is unwise to ignore the fact that many college students do choose to partake in these activities. By omitting these questions, housing runs the risk of pairing up roommates who have serious differences in their tolerance for these types of behaviors, thus increasing the potential for serious conflicts.

The most effective way to solve this roommate selection dilemma would be to use a roommate-matching website. Websites such as RoomSurf, which is more or less eHarmony for roommates, are relatively popular among GW students.

On these websites, students fill out a survey that is similar to, but more detailed than, GW’s survey. The website then determines your compatibility with other students based on those answers. Students can even also fill out an “About Me” section to describe any hobbies or other useful pieces of information. Students can then view all of their potential matches, view their profiles and even compare how compatible they are based on the website’s percentage rankings.

If GW Housing Programs used this as the way for students to navigate the housing process, students would be able to see their potential roommates and have a say in their selection. Many colleges already use these websites as a way to determine roommates. GW, too, could greatly benefit from the personalization and student involvement in the selection process that these websites provide.

By making an effort to fix the manner in which roommates are randomly selected, GW can make the lives of its students and its housing staff easier.

Saige Saunig, a freshman majoring in journalism, is a Hatchet columnist.

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