ResLife Demystified: A Look at the Housing Process and Options for the Upcoming Lottery

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If you are stressed out about the upcoming housing selection process, don’t panic. We’re all in this together, and the Office of Residential Life is here to help. Gregory Jones, director of housing operations, Andrew Gresenz, housing assignments specialist, Noor Ibrahim, assistant director of housing assignments and occupancy, and Peter Kwiatek, assistant director of off-campus housing, have offered their wisdom in the hopes of helping students make smart decisions about where they will live next year.

On Campus

BC offers three main types of rooms: traditional, suite, and apartment styles. The ResLife website outlines which residence halls offer what types of rooms, as well as additional information about the layout, common space, required meal plans, and more. Two new residence halls will also be available through room selection for occupancy in the fall: 2150 and 2000 Commonwealth Avenue.

“2150 includes four- and six-person apartments, while 2000 has one- and two-bedroom apartments,” Ibrahim said. “At 2000, some of the apartments have been updated, because some were old, but the majority of the renovation in the building is around common space. There is a new lounge on the second floor that opens onto the back patio and a new lounge/reflection space up on the 17th floor. They’re also redoing the entire first floor lobby, so that will look different. Both buildings have brand new furniture.”

Ibrahim added that the group selection process begins on Feb. 29 and continues for a couple of weeks.

“Every day is different,” she said. “For example, February 29 is for six-person apartments. Students form groups and the group leader submits the request on the Agora Portal. The group then gets entered into the lottery and receives an email later that same day letting them know if they’ve been selected to pick a room or not. If students don’t get a pick time then they have to try for another day with a different sized group.”

The ResLife website outlines which groups pick on what day, the first being six-person apartments on Feb. 29 and the last being traditional style on Mar. 17.

ResLife reassures that the only preference in the lottery process is class year. Each student receives an eligibility code based on his or her graduation date, and once the numbers are added up, the group is placed into a category.

The appeals process is an opportunity for students to petition for an additional year of housing outside of their guaranteed years. ResLife reviews appeals on a case-by-case basis, with priority being given to those who demonstrate a significant need over others to be on campus.

“We also grant appeals based on what I would call fairness,” Jones said. “For example, if a student transfers into the school of nursing from A&S, they would then receive an additional year of housing, because all nursing students receive four years by admissions. If there’s a policy that grants four years of housing, we make sure it’s honored.”

For those still worried about the upcoming weeks, Noor reassures, “Make the best decision that you can right now, and be smart about it, but if something doesn’t work out we’re here to help.”

Off-Campus

Another option for students is to live off campus. Juniors typically live off campus because it’s nontransferable for those who only have three years of guaranteed housing.

When looking for off-campus housing, Kwiatek asserts the best thing students can do is connect with the current tenants of whatever property they are interested in.

“While ResLife doesn’t associate with any particular real estate agencies, what we will do is if someone says they’re looking at an apartment on Commonwealth Avenue and there are current BC students living there, I will reach out and ask if they don’t mind sharing their experience,” Kwiatek said.

ResLife also has a Web site where local landlords, property managers, real estate agents, and even students can post listings. Furthermore, ResLife will sort through properties and take down properties if it has heard about a negative experience or views something inappropriate. It is impossible, however, for ResLife to verify and vet everything that is posted, so it is important that students are smart consumers.

A recent issue for students has been move-in dates. Most places require a one-year lease starting Sept. 1, however classes begin in August for the next two academic years.

“We advise students to get in writing that they can move in August 28 if at all possible,” Kwiatek said. “Many landlords will say that they’ll try and get you in earlier, but if possible get it written on the lease beforehand. What ResLife can do is if there are BC tenants with an expiring lease, we can get them on campus earlier. That way we can tell the landlord the students are gone and the place can be cleaned for the new people to move in early.”

ResLife is trying to make off campus more of an experience for students by connecting with them through information sessions, housing fairs, group meetings, and more events. Furthermore, once students sign the lease and move off, ResLife wants to keep them engaged through community activities.

“There’s a neighborhood cleanup group that meets after home football games in the fall to pick up trash and go out for breakfast afterwards,” Kwiatek said. “There will also be an a capella night at Fuel America in March and we’ll sometimes set up spontaneous free breakfast at the bus stop. We are trying to make our presence known and make sure students know that just because they’re off campus doesn’t mean they’re out of sight or out of mind.”

One of the most important pieces of advice Kwiatek offered was for students to take a breath and hold off on rushing into anything. He has helped students find housing well into the summer and advises students to think twice before hastily signing a lease if they still have doubts.

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor