DePaul’s student housing policies frustrate some new freshmen

Freshman+Amber+Gray+paid+for+a+larger+room+but+was+assigned+a+single+suite+instead.+This%2C+and+multiple+other+cases%2C+made+students+question+the+Housing+Department.
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DePaul’s student housing policies frustrate some new freshmen

Freshman Amber Gray paid for a larger room but was assigned a single suite instead. This, and multiple other cases, made students question the Housing Department.

Freshman Amber Gray paid for a larger room but was assigned a single suite instead. This, and multiple other cases, made students question the Housing Department.

Alayne Trinko / The DePaulia

Freshman Amber Gray paid for a larger room but was assigned a single suite instead. This, and multiple other cases, made students question the Housing Department.

Alayne Trinko / The DePaulia

Alayne Trinko / The DePaulia

Freshman Amber Gray paid for a larger room but was assigned a single suite instead. This, and multiple other cases, made students question the Housing Department.

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Freshmen roommates Sierra Reiynolds and Maureen Andersen said they have had a great experience working with the Department of Housing, but that hasn’t been the same for all students living on campus.

“I got all of my top choices,” Reiynolds said. “I got the roommate I wanted. I got the room and hall I wanted. I have no complaints.”

Some DePaul incoming freshmen are looking to the Department of Housing for answers to their questions and concerns about their first-year housing assignments.

However, freshman Amber Gray has a slightly different story. Gray was assigned a converted housing double deluxe unit on the Lincoln Park campus with her requested roommate.

DePaul places students into converted housing in order to accommodate more incoming students on campus. Converted housing units are larger rooms designed to fit between three and four residents, according to the Department of Housing website.

When she got to campus, Gray said the room looked like a single suite. She said there was one closet, and the room was noticeably smaller and isolated from the rest of the rooms on her floor. When she looked at the emergency exit map on the door of the unit, her room was labeled “R.A.,” for Resident Assistant.

“I was paying for a double deluxe room, but I was assigned an R.A.-sized room,” Gray said.

Gray said the Department of Housing did not provide any explanation as to why she received that particular room type as her converted housing unit for the price she had to pay.

After multiple phone calls and emails with the department during the first week of school, Gray and her requested roommate were eventually separated and placed into different housing in Lincoln Park.

Freshman Tyler Keuch also expressed his confusion regarding his housing assignment.

“My roommate of choice was put in the room next door to mine, and for some reason they had zero ability to change it even though he was right next door to me, and he had a random roommate, too,” Keuch said.

Keuch said that he and his requested roommate made multiple calls to the Department of Housing and were told that making the switch would “not be as easy as it sounds.”

Just a few days before school started, Keuch decided to have his father call the department on his behalf.

“I finally gave the phone to my dad,” Keuch said. “It finally worked after that, but it took a lot of effort. And I think the only reason it worked was because my dad wouldn’t really give up on the phone call until he essentially said, ‘Let me talk to your higher-up.’”

When asked about students who are unsatisfied with their correspondence with the Department of Housing, Director of Housing and Student Centers Rick Moreci said it “hurts his heart.”

“I felt pretty confident that the staff working in housing are all very student-centered and very professional and very friendly and work to help students resolve any issues they may have, and if that doesn’t happen for every student, that would be atypical, and it would also make me sad, to be honest,” Moreci said. “Because I really do think I have a really hard-working staff that do this work because they care about students.”

Even though the students were eventually accommodated, Gray and Keuch are still puzzled by their initial experiences with department.

“I’m just still so curious about how I ended up with the one converted housing room that was smaller than the rest,” Gray said. “I just don’t understand. Why was there no sense of urgency? This is my home. This is where I’ll be living for a year. I’m not in Houston anymore, and it felt like nobody cared.”

Keuch is looking to apply for the R.A. position next year through the Department of Housing. He said he hopes to make changes in favor of students if he gets the position.

“What I really want is to make sure everybody has who they want,” he said. “If you’re not getting who you want, at least provide [students] with an explanation as to why they can’t have what they want. I never got an explanation. They made it really hard for me to switch to my roommate, but it seems fairly simply.”

Under Article 6 of the 2019-2020 Terms and Conditions For DePaul University Campus Housing, “Roommate requests will be considered but cannot be guaranteed.”

In most Department of Housing marketing materials that promote living on campus, the “no guarantees” factor is frequently mentioned to ensure students are aware that their preferences may not be matched exactly, according to Moreci.

“It becomes statistically impossible to accommodate every student and every request that they make,” Moreci said. “We cannot meet them all. If we had 30 housing buildings, then we probably could do it, but we just don’t.”

However, Moreci said students are able to increase their chances of getting their housing preferences matched.

Students must have a mutual roommate request. When a roommate request is sent online in the housing portal, both parties must accept the request.

Students should submit their housing agreement and deposit within the same time frame of the same day, week or month.

Students should submit their housing documentation as early as possible. The software technology used to sort through the housing preferences is “very intelligent,” according to Moreci, and it will only honor the timing presets programmed by the department to give priority to students who submitted their preferences earliest.

“…There are limits to what we can do sometimes because housing is very full,” Moreci said. “But I guarantee you, even if it’s not immediate gratification, which I know a lot of students wish they could have, we are always going to work on getting them the resolution they are looking for. It just may take some time,”

In the past year, the department has made strides to increase retention rates of on-campus residents by increasing “affinity efforts,” according to Moreci.

DePaul-logoed mats and wall decals, fresh paint, carpeting and various residence life involvement activities are all efforts made by the department in hopes to bring a sense of school spirit and character to the residence halls, Moreci said.

The Department of Housing welcomes feedback from students on an email, phone, scheduled appointment and walk-in basis. In the spring, the department will release a housing satisfaction survey for all DPU students to share their experiences and notes for improvement for the following school year.

“We want students to be excited about living on campus for as long as they are interested in living on campus,” Moreci said. “We want to make students feel at home…”