BY HANNAH MILLER
As a result of feedback from students, parents and staff, the housing selection process is undergoing many major changes for the 2010-2011 year.
The changes are designed to save time and reward students with seniority who want to live on campus and maintain good grade point averages (GPA’s).
Chris Porter, director of Residence Life, wanted to make the process of housing selection more personal, abandoning the “cat-call feeling” of the Great Hall.
According to the Residence Life Web site, students who have submitted a housing contract are assigned a specific time at Marye House to choose their housing. The selection process should take between 10 and 15 minutes.
“This process will take over the course of three weeks and the posters with the layouts and all the information will be available,” Porter said.
Junior Amanda Gold, President of the Association of Residents Halls (ARH), the student organization that assisted with the changes, thinks the new 10 to 15 minute time slots are an efficient use of time.
“[There is] nothing worse than sitting in a room while everyone else gets called for housing,” she said. “Announcements of closed buildings, seeing the group that will get the last room, waiting and clearing her schedule,” are the aspects of housing selection she is glad to see gone.
Porter says that updates of housing availability will be posted online throughout the housing selection period.
Junior Alex Zelin likes the idea of a scheduled time that lasts less than 15 minutes.
“It will save time and not be as stressful,” Zelin said.
The Residence Life Web site explains the new housing selection number generation, which gives credit for academic achievements and preference to those already residing on campus. The number is based on rising class standing, on or off- campus living status, GPA and a new opportunity for committed students to turn in their contract earlier for a better number.
Off-campus students will have a chance to participate in housing selection as well this year. According to Porter, the reason for this change was the opening of 624 beds in Eagle Landing and off- campus students feeling “disenfranchised” in the past.
“We wanted to help out some off-campus students [who] were looking to come back,” said Porter.
Zelin does not see a problem with off-campus students coming back because of Eagle Landing and the extra rooms it will provide.
GPA will also be a factor in students’ housing selection number this year. According to the Residence Life website, once the GPA is rounded it will be placed in one of five groups: 3.50-4.00, 3.00-3.49, 2.50-2.99, 2.00-2.49 and 2.00 and below; the higher the GPA, the better the lottery number.
Gold supports these changes and thinks the students who work hard should get a better number.
“A lot of my friends work hard or make the dean’s list, but they have a worse number than someone who is just sliding by,” she said.
Zelin was also in support of these changes.
“I like how the number will be based on what you’ve accomplished at UMW,” she said.
The new “Early Eagle Special” featured on the Residence Life website states that students who submit their housing contracts between Feb. 15 and Feb. 22 will get a bonus to improve their chances for a better number.
Porter said the Early Eagle Special was designed as a perk for those committed to living on campus early.
“In the past, it was unfair to those who signed up early and didn’t get anything,” she said.
This new incentive helps out the Residence Life staff as well.
“Residence Life keeps track of the contracts on a daily basis,” Porter said, “In the past, the last three days is when we were overwhelmed with hundreds of contracts.”
Zelin likes the new Early Eagle Special.
“In the past, when you only had a week to submit your contract, if you forgot to turn it in before the deadline, you were on the bottom of the list and not guaranteed to live on campus,” Zelin said. “But with the Early Eagle Special, you have more time and are guaranteed housing.”
Junior Sarah Burton feels that overall the new changes are more efficient and fair but was never bothered with the housing selection process of the past.
“I didn’t have any problems with the old housing selection. I ended up alright,” Burton said.
With all these new changes to the housing selection process, Porter encourages students to not assume what is going on and to really pay attention to the new changes. Her goal is to have no misunderstandings and to be as fair as possible.
Gold encourages students to attend the housing social on Feb. 22, which will feature a show room of a typical Eagle Landing room, as well as floor plans for all the other buildings on-campus.
Gold is most excited about the student input and how students today have the chance to make their mark on these changes.
“It’s the best time to be a student, administrators are listening,” she said.