the Class of 2011 arrived at Mary Ward and Mary Park halls this fall,
most freshmen knew a little more about their roommates than in years past.
This year, SF State campus housing staff elected to provide a safe and
efficient way for students to select their roommates. Most of the incoming
freshmen class chose this option over the traditional method of relying
on housing staff to make the match--a method still practiced by most universities
in the United States.
"We’ve always allowed roommates to contact each other once
we matched them up," said Philippe Cumia, associate director of housing
and residential services at SF State. "But this was the first year
we asked the students if they wanted to add their name and e-mail address
to a list of incoming freshmen who wanted to seek their own roommates."
Out of 1500 freshmen seeking campus housing, 1100 took advantage of the
opportunity to choose with whom they would share their 13 by 15-foot accommodations.
Freshman roommates Ben Duckett from Santa Barbara and Andrew Henderson
of Orange County both said that it took about a week to whittle down their
list to students who had similar interests. Then they contacted potential
roommates via e-mail and text messages and consulted personal Web sites
and social networking site pages to narrow the search further.
"I sent out a short bio to those on the list I thought I had something
in common with and I received about 20 responses," said Henderson,
who plans to major in biology with a career in dentistry in mind. After
evaluating all the responses, he contacted a few including Duckett. The
two have since become fast friends.
"All of my friends who are already in college were amazed that I
got to choose my own roommate," said Duckett, a business management
major who hopes to own his own charter flight company one day. He and
Henderson used their favorite method of communication--text messaging--to
contact each other and hammer down who would bring the microwave and who
Another freshman housed in Mary Ward Hall said that he applied for dorm
residency too late to opt for finding his roommate himself. "It sounds
like a good idea to me," he said. "I don’t have much in
common with the roommate I was assigned, although he seems like a nice
It is too early to proclaim this new system of finding roommates a success,
but housing staff is sure that the practice has alleviated some of the
fall semester stress for both staff and students.
"It’s probably best for the students to take on the responsibility
to choose," said Cumia. He notes that as soon as personal Web sites
and online social networking services like My Space began to make it easier
for students to learn about their future roommates, the number of calls
from concerned parents increased. "But this year we received fewer
last-minute requests for changes due to such concerns."
-- Denize Springer