Several residential colleges are experimenting with web-based housing information systems that may soon spread to the rest of campus.
Saybrook College has developed a new website for the upcoming housing draw that will show which rooms remain available as the draw progresses, while an interactive “platform” used by Calhoun, Berkeley, Davenport and Branford Colleges has similar features combined with a forum where students can discuss living arrangements. John Meeske, associate dean for student organizations and physical resources, said administrators will closely monitor two web-based models this spring to determine whether they enhance the process and merit expansion to all of the colleges.
“We’re interested in seeing which system is the best system to continue,” Meeske said. “Should we have no systems, or move towards one or another in the future?”
Saybrook Dean Paul McKinley, whose office created Saybrook’s new site, said students will be able to see how many applications for a particular type of room have been submitted, find out lottery results and choose their bedrooms within suites. The Saybrook housing website also provides detailed information about bathrooms, adjoining suites and whether or not a given room has a bedroom lock, he added.
But McKinley said the housing committee was careful to keep offline some parts of the process, such as the lotteries and the room draws, “both for the sake of transparency and because these are important tribal events in the college.”
Calhoun and Berkeley have been using an interactive platform for the past several years after it was designed by Eli Luberoff ’09 and Stephen Schwink ’08, and Davenport adopted the system last year. The platform features a page called the “whiteboard,” which allows students to see the intended living arrangements of their peers, invite each other to live together and observe how the supply compares to the demand for certain types of rooms. This site uses the same software for each of the four colleges, but displays different information and procedures depending on the college of the user that has logged in using their Yale credentials.
Michael Adkins ’14, a member of the Branford housing committee, approached Information Technology Services last fall about the potential expansion of the platform to other colleges, and ITS agreed to host the platform on its servers this spring and use Branford to pilot the expansion.
Adkins said he thinks the site better organizes the process of selecting rooms without taking away from the community rituals of the draw.
“Every college is starting to get ideas that they would like something online to handle the housing process, and this is the year that people are starting to come together and figure out what that application will look like,” Adkins said.
Rachel Ruskin ’12, co-chair of the Branford housing committee, said the platform will make the housing process fairer by ensuring that everyone is part of the conversation. In previous years, rooming arrangements were often determined through private Facebook groups, she said.
Colleges not using the new platforms are drawing on other strategies to organize the selection process. Silliman Master Judith Krauss said the college’s website features a floor plan of Silliman and a list of lottery rules, and Jonathan Edwards is planning to use Google Docs this semester, according to Vivian Wang ’15, who serves on the Jonathan Edwards Housing Committee.
Pierson Dean Amerigo Fabbri said Pierson currently uses the Internet to facilitate the submission of rooming cards, but the rest of the housing process is conducted on paper or in person. He added that Pierson is considering “following the example of other residential colleges that are using an online system.”
Five students interviewed who have used the interactive site said the platform simplifies the process of selecting a room. Amanda Shadiack ’14, who lives in Davenport, said the site assists students in determining which suites are available and whom groups are “competing against.” Michael Giuffrida ’12, a student in Calhoun, said it is useful to see how suites are allotted for students of different class years, along with the logistical details and deadlines.
“Just about everybody uses the website when housing rolls around,” he said. “I think it streamlines the housing process, which is probably more stressful for students whose colleges don’t use the housing website.”
Students are not required to submit forms indicating their housing preferences until after spring break, and the process ends in April.