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Thursday, Nov 27, 2014

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East Green

The new Residential Housing program will allow students to select where they'd like to live on the Athens campus.

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Incoming students given housing choice


This year Ohio University will allow incoming first-year students to select their rooms. The new policy will create a more personalized housing experience for new students.

Residential Housing explored the proposed change for a number of years before finally agreeing that it was a step they were prepared to take.

A trial was conducted last year to explore the potential of the proposed system. The pilot stemmed from feedback Residential Housing received, revealing 96 percent of incoming students would rather select their own room then be automatically assigned to a space on campus.

Alaina Hickman, who is now entering her second year, was one of the 100 students who participated in the pilot.

"I think the program is set up really well. If students look for the specifics and know what they want, they should easily find a room they will love," she said.

This is one of the biggest concerns associated with the new program, as Residential Housing staff worry students will not know enough information about the residence halls or campus to decide where they would like to be placed.

"We wanted to identify that students who have never been to Ohio University would know enough about the campus to make an informed decision about where they wanted to live," said Associate Director for Contract Management Jneanne Hacker, "We also wanted to see if the process would be simplistic enough to navigate and select a room."

Amy Worrell, a sophomore who also participated in the pilot last year, was not aware of the specifics pertaining to each residence hall. Her main priority was to live on the East Green, which she was able to do through the newly established system.

Although Worrell was only aware of what green she wanted to live on, she was still able to make a decision she was happy with.
"I wouldn’t change anything about the process," she said, "I’m happy I was able to take part."

Many incoming students find themselves in the same position as Worrell, as campus knowledge is passed down from friends and relatives.

"Students put a lot of emphasis on green and I think a lot of that is word of mouth," said Hacker. "They come to campus, and they have a friend that lives on East Green so East Green is the best decision. What we find is there is a huge level of disappointment if a student doesn’t get the green they wanted. They are placed on South Green and they think their whole college experience is going to be a negative one."

To ensure students do not start their OHIO careers with a negative experience, Residential Housing has developed recovery plans to aid students who are misinformed or who have made mistakes.

"If a student makes an error we can help immediately," said Hacker. "Say if they selected a single and really wanted to live with someone else or vice versa we can release them from that room, put them back into the lottery and give them back the decision making of where they want to go."

Above all, the decision to transition from the automated process focused on the way in which students viewed their own part in selecting a room. 

"It all comes down to perception. They have the control, they can decide where they want to go, and ultimately that leads to a higher level of success," said Hacker. "Before they even step foot on campus the students are comfortable in the fact that they selected the space."