Housing assignment must not be so random

Matthew Tessler, Deputy Opinion Editor

The Phase I housing deadline for students choosing to live on campus for the next academic year is March 12. For most students, the new school year will bring a new housing situation and, possibly, new roommate. Information obtained through NYU’s Housing Portal largely determines a student’s placement. Applicants must answer a questionnaire on their daily habits to determine what roommate would be most compatible for them. While upperclassmen can request roommates, the First Year Residential Experience assignment process policy, which was implemented in 2013, does not allow for requests. For freshmen, roommates are guaranteed to
be strangers.

Part of the criteria for determining assignments is geographic diversity. NYU makes a serious effort to place people together who come from different areas of the country or the world. This is an admirable concept that attempts to expose students to different cultures via their roommates. But freshmen room assignments also depend on responses to the housing lifestyle questionnaire, which only takes into consideration preferred social atmosphere, sleep style and room cleanliness. NYU’s sizable student body gives it the ability to match people up with precision.

Roommate compatibility is vital to everyone’s experience at NYU. Studies  from Dartmouth, the University of North Carolina, Harvard and various
other research institutions have shown that roommate relations affect everything from one’s grades to weight gained during freshman year, likelihood of joining social organizations to probability of binge drinking. A student’s housing situation can greatly impact their college experience as a whole.

NYU can afford to be more precise in roommate selection. Other schools have been turning to websites like Roomsurf, RoommateClick and RoomSync that more accurately place roommates together with more detailed surveys. More scale-based questions regarding sound levels — like complete silence to playing music through speakers — and light preferences — like shades shut and lights off to shades open and lights on — could resolve some common roommate disagreements that leave people angry with each other and stressed out. NYU should take after these schools and increase the complexity of their selection process to prevent this type of dissonance.

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Making the housing selection process more detailed could improve the precision of roommate selection without eliminating the geographic diversity criteria. Doing so could have a beneficial effect on roommate relations, which would in turn make student’s experience at NYU better overall. Where you live and who you live with obviously make a huge difference in one’s life. NYU should therefore take more into consideration when assigning roommates.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 10 print edition. Email Matthew Tessler at [email protected]

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