Residence Life changes room draw back to original system

Lauren Trimber, Senior News Editor

With the Office of Residence Life officially changing room selection back to its original format, Associate Director of Housing Operations Maureen Muckinhaupt and Interim Dean of Students Jacquie Kondrot visited Allegheny Student Government to discuss the changes during the ASG meeting on Tuesday, March 6.

Associate Director of Housing Operations Maureen Muckinhaupt visits Allegheny Student Government to discuss official changes to room and housing selection during its meeting on Tuesday, March 6, 2018.

The room selection process will be based on the student with the best number, rather than an average of all the students’ numbers who plan to live together, according to Muckinhaupt.

“For this year, we are going with the in-person housing selection process, but we are using the technology for the application piece and to allow folks to track what rooms are available,” Muckinhaupt said.

The added online aspect of the housing agreement will include a survey that students will fill out to give the Office of Residence Life a better idea of who they could potentially be placed with.

“Even though you’ll be choosing your own roommates, we’re still going to gather some room preference information so that if we have to pair people or do placements, we have some of that information so we know how you want to live in your room,” Muckinhaupt said.

The room selection process will be further changed by the removal of dormitories on campus. After this year, Crawford Hall will become inactive, Schultz Hall will house first-years only and Ravine-Narvik Hall will be open to sophomores, juniors and seniors, according to Muckinhaupt.

“Basically, [these decisions] have to do with the college looking at the right sizing for our Residence Life and residence hall options,” Kondrot said. “It has to do with sustainability issues. No, [Crawford Hall] is not necessarily going to be pulled off permanently. We’re going to take the next year, and use the Comprehensive Maintenance Plan and Strategic Planning Committee. We’re going to be looking at what’s the best use for all of our residence halls.”

Since Allegheny has consistently had lower enrollment, the college has a reduced need for housing space. Crawford Hall was the easiest dormitory to remove, Kondrot said.

With the removal of Crawford Hall, Allegheny will only have one all-female dormitory, and the administration does not plan to establish another all-male dormitory, Muckinhaupt said. However, she added, because of the shift in dormitories, there will be more floors that will be male only.

Class of 2020 President Jason Ferrante asked if the administration planned to have gender neutral or male and female-designated safe rooms.

“For safe rooms in general, we’re being very intentional about holding some spaces that have access only to that specific room and have a private bathroom so that safe rooms are a more private experience,” Muckinhaupt said. “So yes, overall, those safe room spaces are flex spaces.”

Trevor Mahan, ’21, brought up the concern of changing students’ rooms who have Title IX complaints against them. 

“Are we still planning to put them in co-ed dorms during interim measures?” Mahan asked.

Muckinhaupt again pointed to the safe rooms, which have been designed to be gender neutral and single-apartment.

“We are pulling safe rooms that have an entrance only to that specific space, so that for any number of situations, students who have access just to that space,” Muckinhaupt said. “We are intentional about having those spaces and not having access to other spaces.”

Housing agreements are due March 18, though the Office of Residence Life does not have an exact date for the release of housing selection numbers. The administration has not yet decided if it should release the housing selection numbers before or after spring break, according to Muckinhaupt. When she opened the question up to ASG senators, she received a general response that providing housing selection numbers would be best before spring break.

“I think people want to have as much time as possible to find roommates,” Ferrante said.

Off-campus houses will be an individual process this year, according to Muckinhaupt.

“Part of the reason we wanted to do that is a variance in the type of houses that are available, so you can have a group of two or you can have a group of nine,” Muckinhaupt said. “We also want to make sure people understand the responsibility that comes with the house. It’s our most independent living space, and it does have additional responsibilities that our other residence hall spaces do not.”

Muckinhaupt added that just as Crawford Hall will be removed from eligible dorms as a sustainability concern, off-campus houses will be required to be kept at full occupancy for the same reason.

Along with the changes to the housing selection process, ASG Vice President Valerie Hurst, ’18, talked about improvements that could be made to the dormitories themselves.

“An improvement for dorms could be bigger beds,” Hurst said. “Not just twin-sized long beds, but wider. Other schools like Edinboro have an add-on to the room that could set us apart.”

The larger beds could be placed in singles to start the process, according to Hurst.

“It makes people more comfortable where they’re living,” Hurst said.

The administration put the idea on its wish-list for the next couple of years, which means it could possibly be implemented by the school as another change to the campus’s dormitories, according to Hurst.