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Diversity in the housing process

Answer a few questions on the housing contract about your living habits and voilà! The mystical process of being assigned your first-year roommate has begun. Your future heavily depends on your response. But what steps lie within this mysterious process?

According to senior Christine Underwood, the process begins around this time every year. Incoming students send in their room placement information and are entered into a database according to interests and living habits. Underwood began pairing up roommates in June, but the process continued until school started.

Underwood has been a student worker for three years and took the position of housing assistant this past summer when Director of Resident Services John Romanski left last May. Leah Mulhearn took Romanski’s place in July.

“The questions deal with top priorities for living,” Mulhearn said. The housing process tries to put people together that have the same general living style, from sleeping patterns to cleanliness.

Ethnicity is not a question on the housing contract.

“That’s not something we want to take into account for placement, which is why it’s not on the application,” Mulhearn said. She said that Eastern does not want to promote racial division and would rather pair roommates by common interest and suitability.

What happens if roommates aren’t getting along? They have to wait six weeks after the start of their first semester together before Residential Services will consider switching them. Mulhearn attributes a significant portion of initial roommate conflicts to high emotions from being in a new environment.

“I tell them, ‘You don’t have to be best friends and eat every meal together and hang out on the weekends. You just have to live together,'” she said. No one requested a switch this year.

From looking at the responses to the questions on the housing contract, both Underwood and Mulhearn heartily agreed that Eastern has a diverse student population in relation to interests. The student body participates in a broad range of activities.

The task of assigning roommates can be chaotic. When asked about the housing applications, Underwood smiled and answered, “Put them in a pile, say a prayer, and start by deposit date.”

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