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Campus residents choose their roommates

August 31, 2007

Photo of SF State roommates Ben Ducket and Andrew HendersonWhen 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 the mini-fridge.

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 guy."

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


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Last modified August 31, 2007 by University Communications