University News

Students assigned mid-year roommates with few days’ notice

ResLife provides five to zero days’ notice on new roommate’s identity for mid-year switches

Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sharing a room or suite with a near-stranger is a hallmark of a student’s first year at Brown. For some students, that experience resurfaces later in their college experience with a new roommate at the beginning of spring semester or even later in the midst of spring break.

Tassos Sapalidis ’18 expected to find out who his new roommate would be before returning for the spring semester. But when he moved into his dorm Jan. 22, he had not heard from the Office of Residential Life. “I went to the ResLife office to ask about it, and they said they would notify me soon,” he said. “That night, around 6 p.m., I received a one-sentence email simply stating the name of a new roommate.”

Sapalidis’s roommate moved in the next morning, leaving him no time to communicate about amenities such as microwaves, fridges and printers, he said.

Students like Sapalidis who are slated to receive new roommates in the spring are typically notified before the end of the fall semester, said Richard Hilton, associate director for administrative services of ResLife.

Post-fall semester vacancies are commonly used to house students returning from a semester abroad, said Richard Bova, senior associate dean of ResLife. ResLife also uses winter break to move students displeased with their fall semester living situations, Bova said.

“We have 250-300 students leaving at the end of the semester. We have to turn and prep those spaces and then make reassignments for the spring,” Bova said. “It’s a pretty daunting task to coordinate, but we do it to the best of our ability.”

Given the timing of the reassignment process, some students are notified of their roommates’ identities the day the new roommates move into their living spaces, Hilton said. The notification period ranges from “five days before to that very day” because ResLife makes “changes up to the day of opening,” he said.

Though most room changes likely go off without much of a hitch, at least one student said ResLife failed to notify him who would be moving into his room.

Ian Sherman ’18 said he received an email from his spring semester roommate “the night before he was supposed to move in,” with no notification from ResLife at all. Sherman had his belongings spread out over the room, only to find that ResLife had moved them to his side when he was gone, he said.

“Students receive notification to pull their stuff back to their side because they may potentially get a new roommate,” Bova said. They “have no right to spread themselves all over the room,” he added.

As for mid-semester room changes — rather than assignments made between fall and spring semester — ResLife does its best to accommodate requests, Bova said.

“If we have the room to do it, we’ll do it all day long,” Hilton said, referring to mid-semester room changes.

But most students are selective about their new placements, Bova said.

For first-year students looking to move in the middle of the semester, ResLife reaches out to the person with a vacancy to discuss compatibility, Bova said.

Sapalidis and Sherman both said that they feel ResLife should notify students receiving a new roommate at least a week in advance. This would provide students “ample time to prepare,” Sherman said.


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  1. DisgruntledSenior says:

    ResLife is far and away the most incompetent department at Brown. It’s amazing how many screw-ups they get away with.

    Our dorms are outdated and poorly maintained (especially upperclassman dorms), and there are very few options for students who don’t want to live in a suite.

    Students coming back in the Spring semester from study abroad or leave are often left without rooms, and forced to live in kitchens or common rooms, which also takes away amenities from current residents with little to no warning.

    This article is just another highlight of ResLife’s incompetence, and more frustratingly, their refusal to work with students. I mean, Dean Bova literally stated that students living alone in a double have “have no right to spread themselves all over the room,” when defending his actions in not notifying students until last-minute if they’ll be getting a roommate.

    What kind of joke is that? Is he really arguing that those students should have confined themselves to half the room for an entire semester, and had no right to occupy their whole room when no one else was living there!?

    Stuff like this is what makes me not want to donate after I graduate.

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