Universities turn to software to pair potential roomates

KBy Rachel Myers

Daily Kent Stater
Kent State University

kENT, Ohio (U-WIRE) – Almost anyone who has experienced life with a roommate knows it can sometimes resemble a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re gonna get.

Party and hygiene habits and everything in between can become an issue if you and your roommate are not on the same page.

Looking to reduce the amount of problems between roommates, a few universities have put into place a service called WebRoomz. The program allows potential roommates to be paired together based on their answers to a questionnaire.

Students are asked everything from how often they cook to how philosophical they are. Many other universities use similar programs to place students.

But at Kent State University, roommate placement is based only on whether or not someone smokes and their class status.

Some students are unhappy with the selection process and think the university should switch to a more advanced system.

“I had a friend whose roommate just recently told him he was gay,” said freshman Samantha Wait, an early childhood education major. “That’s definitely something I would want to be aware of before I moved in.”

Faith Modic, a second-year exploratory major, also thinks a more advanced program might be helpful.

“My old roommate was nocturnal and I wasn’t. I think a lot of conflict could have been avoided if we’d known that about each other beforehand.”

But the university has no plans of implementing a WebRoomz type program.

Residence Services director Terry Webb said he looked into the policy of other universities, and found little or no evidence that the programs were effective.

“The problem with such surveys is that they are self-reported,” he said. “There is a definite margin for error. There is no 100 percent sure-fire method that is going to work.”

Some people feel that choosing your roommate before moving in deters exposure to diversity, a crucial part of the college experience.

“The roommate I had last year wasn’t someone I would normally be friends with,” said Leah Campanelie, sophomore magazine journalism major. “But I learned a lot from her, and she learned a lot from me. It helps you grow.”

Webb said the university offers options if a student needs or wants to move.

Webb also advises students to read, take seriously, and discuss the roommate agreement forms passed out at the beginning of the semester.

“The best thing for roommates to do is communicate,” he said.