Room selection process sees changes

Davison becomes first-year hall; large increase in group commons applications

DAVISON HALL WILL BECOME a freshman residence hall next year. During the past few years, it has been a sophomore residence hall. Residence Life says the change is due to Davison’s proximity to first-year services, such as the Vasudha classroom in Nason Hall, which hosts the Tuesday Night Toolbox and other programs.

Housing selection at RPI for 2014–2015 is currently in progress. There were several stages to the process, depending on students’ class years and where they planned to live next year. An electronic portal, StarRez, allowed students to sign up for a housing application online. Additionally, Davison Hall, which has been part of sophomore housing, is now going to be a freshmen residence hall.

According to Christina Lowery Smith, Assistant Dean of Residence Life, this change is happening “because we are looking to meet the needs of the first year students with spaces that better match their needs. Davison is in close proximity to the other first-year halls, specifically Nason Hall, which has the Vasudha classroom which hosts many first-year-support programs such as the First-Year Experience Tuesday Night Toolbox program, Leadership House lectures, and naturally Vasudha programs.”

Current sophomores, juniors, and seniors living in certain residence halls were allowed to keep their current room for next year and choose their roommates. These residence halls were Blitman Residence Commons, Polytech Apartments, Bryckwyck Apartments, Stacwyck Apartments, Colonie Apartments, North Hall, E-Complex, and Rensselaer Apartment Housing Projects. Students who wanted to live somewhere else on campus, who did not currently live in one of those residence halls, or were rising sophomores had several choices. They could participate in the group commons process, or in the general lottery for their class year. All of these choices were selected by the students online in StarRez. According to David Hodson ’15 who used the room retention process, “It seemed quick and easy to me. It was strange to go to a non-RPI site, but it only took me 15 minutes.”

According to Lowery, roughly 15 percent more students participated in the current room retention program than last year. Lowery said that numbers for the lottery process are not out yet, especially since the upperclassmen lottery has not yet taken place.

The group commons process allowed student groups from four to 16 students to submit an application for their group to live together. Lowery explained that, “The application asks students to identify a Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students initiative core theme and explain how their group’s desire to live together speaks to that theme.” Last year, Lowery said 39 people participated in the group commons process. This year, 425 people applied. Residence halls available for the group commons process were Blitman, Polytech, and RAHPs. Students could also apply to live in gender-neutral (female and male students are allowed to share a room) housing in RAHPs. The ResLife website notes that “The purpose of community building [gender neutral housing] is to accommodate students who wish to room with someone of another gender, not to promote couples living together. Rensselaer strongly discourages dating couples from selecting to room together; relationship challenges or breakups can pose significant roommate conflicts.”

The sophomore general lottery took place last week, while the upperclass general lottery takes place February 19 and 20. Students were able to pick whether to be an individual, or form a group on StarRez and then were assigned a lottery number. On the ResLife website, next year’s sophomore residence halls listed are Quadrangle Dorms, Warren Hall, Sharp Hall, Nugent Hall, Blitman, RAHPs, and Stacwyck. According to Lowery, upperclass residence halls include “Blitman Commons, Polytechnic Apartments, Colonie Apartments, North Hall, E-Complex, the Quad (specifically Church IV, V, and VI), Bryckwyck Apartments and RAHPs A and B.”

Students’ experiences differed. Amy Kong ’17 explained that her group of six wanted to get into Sharp. According to Kong, they were under the impression that only the group leader would have to be there to sign up, but found out that all members of the group had to be there. Four members of their group ended up in Sharp, while the other two ended up somewhere else. Ivan Smirnov ’17, who was part of a different group, said “For us, it went very well. We received one of the first lottery slots.”

StarRez is planned to be used for more than just signing up for housing. Lowery said that “StarRez will eventually be a one stop shop for room and meal selection, finding roommates, applying for a position as an resident assistant or learning assistant, and initiating a room change. StarRez puts the housing selection process in the students’ hands, and gives them ready access to information related to their housing.”

Renovations have recently been done in several residence halls. RAHPs B, Bryckwyck, Colonie, and the Williams Apartments in Stacwyck have been renovated recently. According to Lowery, “This summer RAHPs A (Colvin and Albright) will also be receiving renovations similar to RAHPs B, and the Quad roof will be replaced.”