Ohio State students applying to live on campus next year have the option to access a new “roommate finder” that would allow them to communicate with potential roommates, but some said they aren’t sold on the new feature.
“We are trying to put more and more increasing ownership in the hands of students,” said Toni Greenslade-Smith, OSU housing administration director.
The new option allows students to contact matches based on answers to the already existing questions on the housing contracts. These questions ask about things like students’ study hours and sleeping habits.
Brian Rice, a second-year in mechanical engineering who plans to live on campus for a third year, however, accessed the roommate finder and said he wasn’t impressed.
“Overall, I thought the information provided left a lot to be desired. The basic set of facts was not super helpful, and I would have liked to see some essay questions to better judge potential roommates,” Rice said.
There was no cost associated with the addition of the roommate finder for the administration because it was part of a software package that was purchased in the past, Dave Isaacs, Student Life spokesman, said in an email.
This new feature has been in the works for some time, but Greenslade-Smith said OSU wanted to make sure it was fully ready before premiering it.
“We have been looking at it for a while. We just wanted to make sure that when we implemented it that we had tested it, and we didn’t want there to be any bugs,” Greenslade-Smith said.
Renewal contracts for students currently living on campus opened up Jan. 25, and housing contracts for new students opened Saturday.
Of the 3,950 students that Greenslade-Smith said accessed the renewal contracts between Jan. 25 and Feb. 7, 2,200 opted to allow their profile responses to be viewed by others along with their contact information. That does not necessarily mean all of those students will choose to use the feature, though, Greenslade-Smith said, but students that do decide to use the feature are encouraged to keep checking the site because as more profiles are entered, new matches appear.
Mutual requests must be made by June 1. If students using the feature neglect to make a selection by this date, they will be randomly assigned based on their answers, Greenslade-Smith said.
Students still have the option to have the administration assign them based on their answers, as well as the ability to request a specific roommate, Greenslade-Smith said.
Students participating in the roommate finder can contact matches via email, and Greenslade-Smith had suggestions for what they should talk about.
“Introduce yourself, talk about what you’re looking for and then if the two of you decide you’re a good match, you would both have to let us know,” Greenslade-Smith said.
Sarah Thompson, a first-year in social work living in a quad of random roommates, said that would be “extremely intimidating” and she wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to use the feature if it had been available last year.
“I know I was extremely shy and honestly didn’t really want to contact my roommates even after knowing who they were, and I wasn’t extremely concerned about living with others, so I probably wouldn’t have taken any initiative and would have just waited for others to contact me,” Thompson said.
She said, though, she’s been fortunate this year.
“I am extremely lucky because we all respect each other and even though we are not exactly alike, we get along fine and have not had any major issues,” Thompson said of her roommates.
Abby Zalenski, a first-year in neuroscience, though, said she would have liked the opportunity to use the feature.
Zalenski also lives in a quad, but her group of random roommates does not get along very well, she said.
“It’s so important to have roommates who have a similar idea of how things will be done in the room because some things just can’t be compromised upon … So, I think it is good that OSU is doing roommate finder to (help) match people who won’t necessarily be best friends but will be compatible roommates,” Zalenski said.
Rice said, however, improvements could be made.
“(The roommate finder) didn’t make it very easy to get in contact with potential roommates. All it provided was a dot number, and it felt weird to me to email someone out of the blue. I would have liked a built-in messaging system,” he said.
Rice lived with two high school friends and one random roommate his freshman year and currently lives with a roommate he requested, but for next year, after realizing the roommate finder was not for him, he has decided to let the system match him with a random roommate, he said.
“I learned that a good roommate doesn’t need to be your best friend, just someone you can develop mutual respect between,” he said.