Housing sign-up system needs improvements, order

Earlier this year, TCU broke with the long-standing tradition of requiring only freshman to live on campus. Starting in the fall, all first- and second-year noncommuting students will be required to live in university-approved housing. Students and university employees are entering uncharted waters. It is in this venture into the great unknown that Residential Services has dropped the ball. First, let’s start with the situation in the new dorms. Touted by the university as the greatest thing since Christ and moveable type combined, they have everybody fighting for a space. With private bedrooms, full-size beds and living rooms, who wouldn’t do a couple of mafia hits to be living the “suite” life?

Trying to curb an outbreak of such violence, the university wisely granted the first 100 people to pay their advanced housing fees spots in the new halls. Those who got in were under the impression that the other bedrooms in the suite would be reserved so they could invite their friends to live in them. Easy as pie, right?

Not exactly.

Students in the first 100, who were banking on living with their friends next year, received bad news two weeks ago. They found out that people eligible for housing sign-ups based on their credit hours could just move in and take up a bedroom in the suite.

Craig Allen, director of Residential Services at TCU, said that the staff never specifically told students that being in the first 100 would guarantee that they would be able to live with all of their friends in the upcoming academic year.

While this may be true, many students had the opposite impression.

Mischa Astroff, a freshman advertising/public relations major said, “The fact that so many students had the ‘wrong’ impression about sign-ups for the new dorms points to a serious flaw. The information should have been presented in a clearer fashion.”

It’s not just the new dorms that are giving next year’s on-campus residents a headache, either. There’s not even a good system for those trying to room with their friends in other residence halls. Space is available on a first-come, first-served basis. This leads to pressure and angry Facebook messages to try and force those deemed “undesirable” to live with to vacate their positions in a room in favor of friends of current occupants.

Thus, hostilities between “squatters” and friends of roommates could become very heated. This could lead to blackmailing, emotionally scarring battles of wit or, worst of all, break-dance fights. Nobody wants that. There has to be a better way.

Why doesn’t Residential Services offer a service in which students submit the names of those they wish to live with, and they do their best to accommodate students’ demands? Friends can room together, and those who wish to go potluck can do that, too. Also, they could completely block off the suites for those who did early sign-up for the newer dormitories. If the number is reduced to the first 50 to sign up, those lucky students should have the right to pick their suitemates. In that case, there would still be plenty of spaces left for upperclassmen.

The way in which housing sign-ups are handled at TCU is in need of improvement. The people in Residential Services are smart, and they strive to do all that they can to ensure a positive residential experience for students. However, they are capable of creating a system to facilitate room assignments to eliminate all of the chaos. The current method has to go.

David Hall is a freshman news-editorial journalism major from Kingwood. His column appears Wednesdays.