Freshman Tal Davidi said he thought he hit the jackpot when he checked his fall 2016 housing assignment on April 13, but one day later, this university’s Department of Resident Life crushed his hopes.
The department released room assignments for the fall 2016 semester on April 13 but at about 7 a.m. the next morning, officials realized an error occurred in the computer system, which processes both students’ priority numbers and their listed preferences to assign them to housing, said Erin Iverson, manager of the department’s assignments and public inquiry.
“We were doing some internal review of the results … in the course of that review, we realized that whole locations that should have been filled, were not filled, and that was an indicator that we needed to take a closer look at what happened,” Iverson said.
Iverson said this error was due to the computer processor containing “leftover code” from last year. This code contained a restriction on mixed-gender floors, which prevented students from being assigned those floors before the code was removed on April 14. Students were notified of their correct housing placements at about 5 p.m. on April 14.
This mistake primarily affected smaller groups of two, three and four as well as individual students, Iverson said. Larger groups of five, six and seven were not moved.
Out of the approximately 4,300 students who participated in fall 2016 room selection, 1,290 were affected, Iverson said. However, 1,172 of these students received an “improved assignment” compared to where they were initially placed, while the remaining 118 students “received something considered to be lower down on their preference list.”
Davidi, a computer science major, was one of those students.
He and his three other roommates were hoping to live in Oakland Hall next semester, which is where they were placed before Resident Life announced the error, Davidi said. When he received an email alert from the department about the mistake, Davidi checked his new assignment, only to find that he and his roommates were split between Denton Hall and an apartment in Old Leonardtown.
“We were angry at Res Life; they’re basically worse than DOTS to us [now],” Davidi said. “We emailed them and we were pretty pissed. They seemed to just ignore whatever we said and just asked us to send us a list of our preferences and said, ‘We’ll try to accommodate you.'”
After collaborating with Resident Life, Davidi and his roommates were relocated to Calvert Hall, which Davidi said is “better,” but they wanted to remain on North Campus because “we’re all STEM majors so it’s significantly closer to our classes.”
Davidi is not alone in this experience — freshman Aliza Silverman and her roommate were also notified of their relocation the day after the mistake.
Silverman, a communications major, was originally assigned to the sixth floor of Prince Frederick Hall, she said. But after the reprocessing, she and her roommate were placed in Denton Hall.
“We weren’t happy about [it] because we both wanted to be on South Campus so I could be close to Hillel, and my roommate wanted to be close to Stamp ’cause she works for SEE,” Silverman said. “But it was just such a shock being changed from Prince Frederick to Denton.”
After emailing their preferences to Resident Life, Silverman and her roommate ended up getting a new room assignment to Worcester Hall through room exchange.
“I mean we’re happy we’re on South Campus, and we don’t mind it, but Prince Frederick would’ve been better ’cause it has air-conditioning and it’s a slightly nicer dorm,” Silverman said. “So it’s kind of disappointing that we didn’t end up there.”
Freshman dance major Suzanne Creedon, one of the “luckier” students, said she is thankful she was not affected by this mistake.
“I was like ‘Oh crap, I hope this didn’t affect me.’ I’m with a group of girls … and they are rising juniors and they have low priority numbers, but I have a really high priority number,” Creedon said. “We got a suite, which was really great, and I was really freaked out cause I didn’t want to lose the suite that we got.”