Roommate connections

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When freshman swimmers Emma Haynes and Emily Weber met via DePauw Connects, it became clear they were compatible enough to be roommates.

The original attraction to live together was based on sleep schedule: swim team practices require many early mornings. After further conversations, however, the two realized that they had many other similarities.

"Once we agreed to live together, we talked through the roommate questionnaire and realized that we had a lot in common and had a lot of the same ideas about how we wanted our room to be," Haynes said.

DePauw Connects, a new social networking program designed to allow incoming students to interact, provided an opportunity for students like Haynes and Weber to preference a newly-met student as a roommate.

"I didn't intend to find a roommate," Haynes said. "I was going to just get one randomly…but Emily and I started talking and found out we had a lot in common."

Although some freshmen like Haynes requested a specific roommate, the majority of freshmen elect to be paired via a questionnaire, according to Dorian Shager, dean of campus life.

The questionnaire surveys preferences for living, such as desire to create a quiet or social space, level of cleanliness and times the individual prefers to wake up and go to bed.

It also provides a space to request number of roommates and type of residence hall, such as single-gender floors or substance-free housing.

Shager, along with other staff members from the Office of Campus Living and Community Development, processes the questionnaires and works to place students with roommates, rooms and residence halls.

Rather than utilizing a computer algorithm or program, between two and seven full-time and student staff members work to organize each student response, and complete assignments by hand.

"We want to give the selections all the attention to detail we can," Shager said. "We look at each preference students submit and try to match their assignment as close as we can."

According to Shager, the process, which takes several weeks, provides a vast majority of freshman students with a compatible roommate and living experience.

A new addition to the process this year was the option to preference an international student as a roommate.

"Some students really want that and are looking to be able to have that type of new experience," Shager said. "Likewise, the Multicultural and International Life Office put together a roommate information sheet to share with the domestic students."

Despite joining DePauw Connects, freshman Emily Vincent elected to be paired via the questionnaire.

"I'd rather just have a random roommate than choose one and be disappointed," she said. "But I thought the questions on the form were pretty important, especially the ones about having guests and how late you wanted to stay up."

After talking to her future roommate several times this summer, Vincent is confident the two are compatible.

"[The] majority of students are very OK with their roommate assignment," Shager said. "Inevitably some will not work out, but the vast, vast majority of roommate relationships are successful."