First, it is clear that additional testing and examination of the computer programs running the room draw system are necessary in order to detect glitches before room selection begins. Students in several residential colleges were unable to access the housing system during their designated draw times. This resulted in much confusion, and the students needed to walk to the Housing Office to select their rooms. Additionally, many students’ draw times have been indefinitely delayed as a result of the glitches. Next year, a more thorough process of program testing in the months leading up to room draw would decrease the likelihood of these delays and inefficiencies.
Next, the Housing Department should model its list of available rooms on the Student Room Draw Guide, which provides a robust set of sorting tools that allows students to view rooms by building, occupancy and square footage simultaneously in a user friendly fashion. Because this interface already exists, it is feasible for Housing to make this change before room draw next spring. A more detailed visual interface would also greatly improve the ability of students to optimize the time they have to make their room selection. For instance, integrating floor plans into the room selection tool so that students can see a floor plan of available rooms within a building would allow students to make more informed decisions. These dynamic floor plans would indicate the names and classes of students who have already selected each room so that students making their decisions can see who their neighbors would be and plan accordingly. The Housing Department could take advantage of computer science students on campus and could even have such an interface created as part of a class project.
Finally, the Housing Department should implement an integrated system of room reviews along the lines of official course evaluations. While the Student Room Draw Guide contains some reviews, it lacks evaluations for a large number of rooms and is not integrated into the official room selection website. Because more information about potential rooms leads to better decision-making, the Housing Department should make an effort to increase the number of room reviews. One way to do this is to require students to navigate through an evaluation page for their current room before being able to sign up for room draw. Students would be prompted to provide a rating and brief review, and the results of these reviews would be immediately made available within the room draw tools. Though seniors would have no incentive to review their rooms under this system, they would be given access to the housing website in order to provide a review.
We believe that these changes would greatly improve the room draw experience. Easily accessible information would allow students to make more informed decisions, increasing the probability that they will be satisfied with their housing arrangements in the coming year. Weighed against the costs, we believe the numerous benefits to these initiatives heavily favor their implementation.