The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


A perfect match?

Web system lets students pick a roommate

It’s the classic beginning-of-the-semester headache. Will he want the best side of the room? Will her wardrobe embarrass yours? Will he have a live-in girlfriend? Will she snore?

For many, these reeling uncertainties are all part of the roommate game.

A few colleges, including the University of Texas at Austin, are using a system to take some uncertainty out of the roommate game. Instead of assigning roommates by potluck, the Web-based self-selection system lets students choose their own.

Residence hall dwellers complete an online questionnaire about their personal habits, interests and other details to help them find their roommate match. The system then ranks potential matches. Students get a list of the candidates’ names, phone numbers and e-mails so they can contact each other before meeting.

In a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Scott Chesney, director of residence life at the University of New Hampshire, praised self-selection.

“Psychologically, it had a positive effect up front, because people believed that they were somehow better off having matched themselves,” he said.

The system also takes the burden of assigning roommates off the shoulders of college housing departments.

Other schools that use the system are the University of Tennessee and Kennesaw State University in Georgia.

Susan Hogan of the SMU Residence Life and Student Housing office hasn’t heard anything about bringing roommate self-selection to SMU. She said the success of the system would depend on the students. Whether you use the program or not, she said, “you have to work to be a good roommate.”

Jordan Thompson, a junior business major and Cockrell Macintosh residence assistant, said the system is a bad idea. “I don’t think that it promotes diverse social interaction,” she said.

Another fear is that the system would decrease the likelihood of meeting a variety of people.

“College is where you can learn from somebody who is from a different part of the country or a different part of the world. And there’s the idea that when you find somebody who doesn’t look like you or who doesn’t want to be a chemical engineer, you aren’t running off looking for a room change,” said Gary Schwarzmueller of the Association of College and University Housing Officers – International.

Some of the colleges have already gone back to their old way of roommate matching for a variety of reasons.

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