Flames of the Torch

If you have participated in the Office of Residence Life’s 2009 room selection process, you may have some negative things to say about your experience acquiring a room for next year.

This year’s room selection process has been modified significantly from past years, the biggest change being the switch from a single Saturday to a week-long event.

Room selection week is now underway, running from Monday, April 20 until Friday, April 24. This is the first year that room selection is a five-day-long process; in years past, it took place on a Saturday.
The question that many students may have, and rightfully so, is why can’t Residence Life design a system that works smoothly and keeps students in mind?

Since room selection now takes place during the school week, a common problem is that many students’ appointment times overlap their class times. It doesn’t make sense to conduct an event of this size throughout the school week when class should clearly take priority.

A university cannot place students in a position where they are forced to skip class; having room selection during the week conflicts with the University’s main educational mission.

When room selection was on a Saturday, however, students could reserve time to show up and go through the lengthy process without skipping class.

Some students have also expressed frustration over waiting in a line that, at times, has reached all the way from outside the Office of Residence Life all the way up the path past the basketball court next to Montgoris Dining Hall. Because of these long lines, many students’ scheduled appointment times have been inevitably pushed back, creating a domino effect of delays. These delays show that Residence Life needs to enforce a more regimented schedule and work on its organization prior to selection days.

Considering the lengthy lines and irritation that students have expressed anxiety over, one can’t help but ask whether or not the changes Residence Life made to the room selection process were actually for the best. Perhaps more significant changes are needed in order to simplify and organize this currently stressful process.

An online room selection process is a possible solution to the woes of the current system. Moving the process online would eliminate the waiting in lines and the confusion, offering a modern method that is convenient for both the students and Residence Life.

Consider the fact that years ago class selection at colleges across the country was a process that took place in a giant gymnasium, in person and on paper. Somewhere in the 90s, schools began making the switch to online class selection methods, and today, St. John’s included, most institutions utilize an online class selection Web site.

There is no reason why room selection at St. John’s can’t take a similar route. Residence Life should think about switching to a digital system, and through this modern transition, make resident students happier and housing selection more organized.

There can be no denying that the room selection process here at St. John’s is an imperfect model. Residence Life should consider this for future years and work on improving the process for students.