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ORL: Implement survey for pairing roommates

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Freshmen and sophomores can study a future roommate’s Facebook profile for his or her hobbies, interests and music preferences. But these do not reveal if their roommate smokes, sleeps in or snores.

It’s time Marquette’s Office of Residence Life set up a survey for incoming freshmen and sophomores to better match roommates with similar lifestyles.

We don’t want students to choose roommates based on their major, location or profile. Instead, we want ORL to pair up students who share compatible habits — they smoke, drink, are clean, sleep in — to clear up tension and unfortunate match-ups.

In the past, Marquette had a basic life habits questionnaire to assist in joining compatible roommates, but ORL noticed many students answered questions dishonestly. For example, some students didn’t admit to smoking because their parents were nearby.

Now, once students already have a random roommate, ORL administrators ask freshmen to complete a roommate agreement to discuss “difficult lifestyle issues” that may surface.

Rick Arcuri, associate dean for administration of Residence Life, said Marquette has seen more success with random rooming and the roommate agreement than with just the roommate survey.

While Marquette’s roommate pairing process appears to have worked from an administrative perspective, there remain students who drudge through the school year dreading interaction with their roommate, a problem that isn’t solved by a roommate agreement.

Why not take a step toward eliminating this issue altogether?

Like DePaul University, which will implement a survey for housing applicants in 2010 with a twist: students will complete a personalized online profile about their basic lifestyle preferences.  These freshmen, who voluntarily participate, can view other students’ profiles and compare preferences.

Several other Jesuit universities, like Boston College, Gonzaga and Santa Clara, are following suit with an online roommate program called StarRez, which allows institutions to tailor questions for more compatible pairings.

Why doesn’t Marquette do the same?

Our generation seeks most of its information online, so it makes sense to let students research roommate compatibility on the Web.

A student with asthma wouldn’t appreciate living with a smoker, just as an early riser wouldn’t tolerate a roommate who rolls in at 4:00 a.m.

Some argue that there’s value in the give-and-take of learning to live with a stranger.  However, providing students with the opportunity to search for a roommate with similar habits puts the responsibility of the students’ living satisfaction in their own hands.

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1 Comment

One Response to “ORL: Implement survey for pairing roommates”

  1. RA on September 1st, 2009 12:17 am

    When I was an RA, I couldn’t count the number of times my residents had a disagreement / fight with their roommate(s) about the points touched on in this article. Pairing roommates based on similar lifestyles would have prevented all those conflicts.

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