By Jen Maldonado
Students will no longer have to wait around for hours late into the night to choose the room they will call home for the upcoming year with the implementation of StarRez, the online housing selection system.
StarRez will allow students to have complete control over their housing experience and will be similar to how students register for classes, according to Roberta Butler, director of housing operations. Students will still be assigned a lottery number, based on their class standing and when they pay their deposit. Now, they are allotted a time slot during which they can log on to the website and pick their room. From that window of time onward, students will be able to go on the site whenever it is convenient for them and can make changes, if needed. The goal is to mirror the course selection process.
“We felt this was a better use of students’ time and is done in a way they’re more familiar with,” Butler said. “They do everything from course selection, applying to the university and even banking online. Their entire lives are online and yet this important part of college life was still using paper and pencil.”
The website, which students can access through their smartphones and tablets, was open for the current freshman class to use during the summer of 2012 and they “really seemed to enjoy the process,” according to Butler, especially when it came to being placed in a triple, which is when there are three students living in a standard double.
“In years past, students were assigned rooms and previous students took it personally that they were assigned a triple, when it was based on deposit date,” Butler said. “With the system being online, students understood that if they did deposit late, a triple was all that was left for them.”
Students will create a profile on the site to confirm information the university already has about them as well as to fill out a questionnaire that will better allow for students to find a roommate if they do not already have one in mind. The survey will even give students a percentage of how compatible they would be based on their responses.
First year students seemed to all have the same opinion when it came to their experience with StarRez.
“I like that not only were you able to choose the building you wanted but also which floor, hall and actual room you wanted,” said freshman Jen Yates, an elementary-education and English major. “I thought that it worked well because you were easily able to find out who your roommate would be by looking to see who else chose the room that you did.”
Freshman Christina Thompson, an elementary- education and American Studies major agreed with Yates.
“StarRez made the housing process convenient,” she said.“Since I could see the rooms [on screen] I knew where the rooms were that my friends were in so I could pick accordingly.”
Butler said that the online process for returning students consists of three phases. The first phase is the application process in which students confirm that the information the system has about them is correct and fill out a questionnaire about themselves. The second phase is for premium-housing group formation or roommate-matching for standard housing. In the group formation phase, a student creates a group which lists who they want to live with and are notified instantly if anyone in the group has a financial or judiciary hold that would disqualify them from premium housing.
For those who already know who they want to live with, only the roommate with the highest lottery number will have to go on and actually select the desired room. Every student does have to go on the site and fill out their profile, select a meal plan and agree to the housing agreement though. Students who know who they want to live with, whether for premium or standard housing, will have to create a group with all of the students they are interested in living with. The final phase is the actual selecting of the rooms.
“StarRez gives students the freedom to choose their roommate and where they want to live in a manner they’re used to,” said Dean of Students Anthony Campbell. “It’s nicer and more convenient.”
Traditionally, housing selection was done in person. Depending on a student’s lottery number, they would head over the Student Recreation Center (SRC) during a weeknight beginning at 10 p.m., since the selection process had to be done after night classes let out. Students would wait for their number to be called and then would pick a room to live in for the upcoming year from the available rooms that were still open.
“It was time-consuming before. In 2010, the university began moving into Banner so we capitalized on that,” Butler said. “We felt it was time to make the big transition [to a manner] that makes everyone’s lives so much simpler.”
There is a new cancellation policy for those who back out of on campus housing. If students cancel before June 1, he or she will lose the $200 deposit. If they cancel between June 1 and July 30, students will lose the $200 and pay an additional $500. If they cancel anytime after July, they will lose the $200 and have to pay a $750 fee.
“We hope that since this price tag is so high, students will actually take this seriously,” Butler said. “Now, the students who really want and need housing are the students who will get it.”
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