Res Life introduces new room selection software

Allegheny’s Office of Residence Life recently purchased new software for room selection.

The new software, called Adirondack, will allow students to choose their rooms through an online portal. Previously, room selection has been conducted in-person.

Kimberley Scott, vice president of Allegheny and dean of students, said she had started considering obtaining software for room selection after arriving at Allegheny from her previous job at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.

“So when I arrived on campus, I noticed that the staff was doing room assignments via hand,” Scott said. “You know so there’s a book, it’s got places, that you can go and select your room, then you go to the staff, and they write it down, and that’s kind of an antiquated way to do housing selection processes.”

Scott mentioned that while other liberal arts schools still conducted room selection via hand, others had transitioned to using computer programs.

“We began the conversation with our colleagues in financial services and information technology, and we began to look at different softwares,” Scott said.

Scott said the biggest advantage of the software was that it largely made human staff unimportant.

“The only time you’ll be interacting with the staff is when you don’t get the answer from the technology,” Scott said. “Now obviously there’s the interactions via email in terms of letting you know that your room selection process is now available, so it’s going to solve the problem of having students go to a set location for whatever time period they’ve identified for being able to select their room. Now they’re going to be able to hopefully do it either from a phone, sitting in their room, in the middle of the night, whenever they want to do it, it gives them the choice.”

Scott said she felt the new system aligned with what students preferred.

Well, what I see in 2 years, almost 2 years that I’ve been here is you know, students will want systems, you know, they want simplicity, you know, they want something that’s going to accommodate their life schedule,” Scott said. “And this will obviously do a whole lot of that.”

Scott said that while the process for implementing the software had just begun, the college hoped to have it fully running by fall 2018.

“If we can make it work for the spring, it would be nice, but we want to make sure we implement it right, because I’ve been at a school where they had to implement, had to redo some things and we don’t want to do that,” Scott said. “We want to get it right the first time.”

Jennifer Foxman, associate dean of students and director of residence life, said that the electronic system would make it easier for disparate departments of the college to work electronically together.

“Even as we go into the implementation, we’re finding ways to connect operations that we hadn’t even thought about in a way before,” Foxman said. “So working with seeing what other schools are doing and the questions the implementation team asks, it’s actually encouraging us to kind of look for ways that we can connect and the software supports those connections. So our work with Physical Plant, or work with billing and meal plans, or work with how we might be able to work with other offices. We might be able to even broaden that circle of service.”

Foxman also said people from the company which made Adirondack have been helpful in the implementation.

“It’s one of the things we like about them, that they help you be successful and walk you through the steps of implementation,” Foxman said, “So there’s an implementation team that’s already started meeting, and every week, there’s a new checklist, and who’s responsible for doing certain things, so every week it’s one step closer to that final launch. and it’s baby steps. And they know the steps, so they’ve been kind of really good at walking us through.”

Maureen Muckinhaupt, associate director of housing operation, said that the college was creating a database of information about every room on campus. The information would be available to students through Adirondack.

“Students will be able to see if a room that they’re going into has a kitchenette versus a kitchen, how many bathrooms that you know either apartment or house has, what the different amenities are,” Muckinhaupt said.

Scott said she feels the representatives of Adirondack respected Allegheny’s individual preferences.

“They adjust to our timeline, to our systems, you know, and what we want to see happen versus coming in and saying hello, this is what you’ve got,” Scott said.

Muckinhaupt said the biggest advantage to the software system was its efficiency.

“Being able to do things more accurately, more quickly, in a much easier format that students can access,” Muckinhaupt said.