Housing Selection Difficulties

Housing selection every Spring has always felt pretty chaotic for me, especially as a sophomore transfer. I remember my first time picking my room for SPINT/Affinity housing in Spring 2021. I was actually working at Cafe 2020 and had to ask for a break during a rush so I could join the Zoom call and claim a room. I had the thought, “How silly is this?” as I sat in the space above the cafe, locking in my single room in Zwingli for the next school year. The following year, I lucked out, finding a roommate almost at the last minute who already had a place in 777 Main St. I could join. But that’s how the process felt for me – you were either lucky, or not. Which is a pretty weird basis for selection of the place you’re going to have to live in for the next 9 months.

Looking from the outside in, I’m pretty thankful I am graduating in May. My house group chat has been going crazy for the past week as everyone else tries to sort through the chaos and ask their questions to our RA. I had always felt out of the loop in previous years, I can’t imagine working through a whole system change.

This year, the student body was introduced to StarRez as a means to work through selection. According to Laura Bradley, a rising Junior and Resident Advisor, students now go online to StarRez to pick a room during their assigned times rather than needing to join a Zoom call. She says it’s a little tricky at first, but is hopeful that it will make things easier in the future. Personally, I see the system’s potential. No more emergency breaks from work to join Zoom on a spotty connection and hoping to be lucky. Having a site to more easily navigate selection sounds like a great idea. But I think the transition into its use could have used more work.

It seems like a lot of the struggle lies with poor communication on how this new system works. Laura mentions how as an RA, she got staff meetings that helped clear the process up to better advise residents and answer questions. But despite this, not all residents seemed to find this process well managed. Ty Ways, a rising senior, comments on the system being, “… poorly explained to students, [which leads] to confusion and difficulty.” This transitional period to StarRez has generally been rough for students. At least, it certainly feels that way when my phone buzzes with a new text from housemates wondering what is going on.

Change is always difficult, I feel like there could have been clearer lines of communication about the StarRez system to leave residents feeling less stressed about housing. It doesn’t help that the timing is set after Spring Break like this. As the semester picks up, the last thing I’d want to do is worry about where I’ll be living next year. Hopefully, as time goes on, residents will be able to better navigate the system and housing selection gets easier for everyone.

Samantha Kiessling: sakiessling@ursinus.edu