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Dormitories on campus.

Photo Credit: Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian

The Housing Office welcomes new and returning students to campus. We hope you had a productive summer and a great start to the new year!

We are mindful of the challenges that some students experienced at the end of the last academic year, and we look forward to the opportunities that the new academic year presents to deepen our work with and support of our students — opportunities to improve, opportunities to listen, and opportunities to engage.

Improving

Over the summer we worked closely with the vendor for Housing’s management system to devise a plan to ensure the randomization error that occurred during last spring’s Room Draw process does not happen again. The error stemmed from improper communication between the system’s random number generator and the University’s Oracle databases. The fix for the error has been included in the system’s latest general release and will be tested this fall.

In addition, students were also concerned that larger group sizes were advantaged in Room Draw, and our vendor found the concern to be true. After considering the various options for addressing this issue by the Spring 2020 Room Draw, we decided that an external group random value generator, to be determined in consultation with the Office of Information Technology, will be used to fully mitigate the group-size impact. This process will also be tested this fall.

Listening

In direct response to the Room Draw issues that were encountered, our Housing Engagement team conducted listening sessions at the end of the academic year, and for students who resided in summer housing, and launched a Google Document in order to gather student feedback. The comments gathered will be used to consider ways to improve the student experience during the Spring 2020 Room Draw, to strengthen Housing’s overall communication with students, and to evaluate potential future changes to the Room Draw process.  

We appreciate the input we’ve received thus far and welcome continued feedback through our Housing Engagement team.  

To establish a more formal platform for gathering student feedback, the former Student Housing Advisory Group will be relaunched as the Undergraduate Housing Advisory Board (UHAB). Similar to the structure already in place for graduate students, UHAB’s membership will consist of Housing administrative staff, students appointed by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and the residential colleges (nine in total), and at-large members chosen via application (six in total). Members will be expected to attend monthly meetings where student experience and policy issues would be discussed. Further, opportunities for UHAB collaboration with the Graduate Housing Advisory Board would be sought. Look for information soon on the UHAB relaunch and how you might become involved if interested.

Engaging

Finally, by harnessing technology, we’re excited to launch two new platforms that will enable us to streamline housing inquiry management and to more broadly connect with students. 

Undergraduate students with housing inquiries can use the email address askhousing@princeton.edu or visit the Service Now @ Princeton (SN@P) portal to manually create a ticket. Either method will create a SN@P ticket. Students will be automatically notified of responses from Housing staff that have been added to their ticket. Students will also be able to add comments by responding to the SN@P email. Graduate students have used the system for over a year, and the system has resulted in more efficient and effective responses to graduate housing inquiries.

In late August, we launched our Instagram account, @Princeton_studenthousing. With content that we hope will be informative and insightful, our goal for this account is that it will be yet another platform to connect with the undergraduate and graduate student communities, the wider University community, and beyond. Our Housing Engagement team oversees the account, and we encourage students to follow our handle and give us feedback on the information shared and on other features that might be developed. 

As we embark on this new academic year, informed by the past, hopeful for positive results from our new initiatives, and aware that unanticipated challenges may arise, we stand ready to serve you and to ensure that you feel at home at Princeton.  

Dorian Johnson is the Director of Housing at the University.  

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