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Congratulations to the Class of 2024!

For first time, college requires returning students to make roommate requests in person

Incoming+first-year+illustration+major+Alexa+Amaya+%28left%29%2C+comedy+writing+and+performance+major+Fred+Scher%2C+and+animation+major+Declan+Mclaren+sit+together+and+chat+in+the+Student+Center+on+Friday%2C+March+15%2C+2024.+
Lukas Katilius
Incoming first-year illustration major Alexa Amaya (left), comedy writing and performance major Fred Scher, and animation major Declan Mclaren sit together and chat in the Student Center on Friday, March 15, 2024.

In the past, students living in the dorms could connect with potential roommates online. But for the first time next year, Columbia is requiring students to make those requests in person.

If they do not, they will be assigned someone at random.

“In years past, students have struggled with completing every part of the roommate request process online and subsequently not being able to live with their desired roommates,” said Michelle Hunter-Lancaster, director of Housing and Residential Experience. “This has created frustration and confusion for students.”

The college held two housing fairs over the past two weeks for students to renew their housing contracts for the next school year. Within the renewal of contracts, students can learn details about the application process, sign-up dates for existing residents, buildings, room types, amenities and create a roommate group for the next school year.

The in-person requirement does not apply to new students. They will be able to apply for housing online on April 11.

“They will be provided with information about the process via email and in conjunction with the Admissions team,” Hunter-Lancaster said. “New students will have the opportunity to self-select a room on the portal and in doing so, have the opportunity to connect with their desired roommates to select the same room.” 

First-year game design major Nick Pulley attended the housing fair to request the same three roommates for next year because they all concluded they did not want to “try to risk it with random roommates,” even though that is exactly how the roommates originally connected.

“The first day that we all moved in together, we just sat and talked for like four hours and clicked really well,” Pulley said. “It was a random assignment, but It was a very lucky random assignment.”

Pulley said randomly assigned roommates worked well because of their “communication and a willingness to work together.” Pulley said although he and his roommates may have different standards within the dorm, communication on what needs to be done lets them continue to live positively with each other.

“It just comes down to like communication in terms of how you live and your expectations of the space kind-of-thing,” Pulley said.

Lancaster said students are the ones in charge of selecting their roommates through the housing portal.

If a current student who is choosing a random roommate goes online to the housing portal and selects their desired room for next year, the available bed spaces left in the apartment can be chosen to live in, thus resulting in living with whoever else selected the other bedrooms in that apartment.

“Names of students are not posted online when selecting spaces, so it is, in essence, random for who they are choosing a room with,” Lancaster said.

Junior fashion design major Kenli Mays also attended to make sure she could stay in the same building and room at 30 E. Balbo. She moved there this spring after living in The Arc in Fall 2023. 

Mays said with her roommate arrangements, they all have been randomly selected.

“I think in the past instances where I’ve had roommates, it’s good to, at least whenever you’re picking roommates, find people that you are compatible with,” Mays said. “Sometimes rooming with certain friends isn’t the best idea, but just make sure you are compatible with that person.”

Junior theatre design and technology major Gabrielle Easterly switched dorms in the middle of the school year from The Flats to The Dwight because her previous dorm was not the right fit for her. After moving in with three new roommates, Easterly said she had the “hard conversation” of setting boundaries with them. 

“Even if you’re put in with random people, I really feel like it’s important to sit down and have those hard conversations first thing,” Easterly said. “Set those boundaries.”

Communication is important for Easterly so she and her roommates can continue to “move on” when boundaries are crossed without it becoming a problem in the future. 

“As long as you’re able to coexist with someone, it should be okay to work out,” Easterly said.

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About the Contributors
Allison Shelton, Reporter
ashelton@columbiachronicle.com   Allison Shelton is a sophomore journalism major, with a minor in adverting and fashion communications.  She primarily reports on Columbia's Student Government Association but has also written about sustainability, campus events and the college's unions. Shelton joined the Chronicle in August 2023.   Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Lukas Katilius, Photojournalist
lkatilius@columbiachronicle.com   Lukas Katilius is a junior photojournalism major. He has covered various campus and Chicago events. Katilius  joined the Chronicle in July 2023.   Hometown: New Lenox, Illinois