Big Changes Coming To NYU Housing For Fall 2013

Coming to NYU as a freshman can be an overwhelming experience. Dealing with subway lines and unpredictable weather in one of the world’s most chaotic cities would be unnerving for any seventeen or eighteen year-old. Nevertheless, no matter what college you go to, the most stressful part of freshman year always remains the same: move-in day. There is no doubt that meeting the person you will have to live with for the next nine months is as exciting as it is horrifying.

Everyone has heard those infamous roommate horror stories. Thankfully, most Freshmen are past the point at the beginning of second semester. But we’re still woken up, drenched in a cold sweat, remembering how we all crossed our fingers before that fateful move-in day, praying that our future roomie would be on the brighter side of the sanity spectrum. The hype can be so daunting that some students find their roommate ahead of time, opting out of this move-in anxiety entirely. In the fall of 2013, however, choosing your own roommate will no longer be an option.

According to Marc Wais, the Vice President of Student Affairs, NYU Housing will be matching every freshman with their roommates next year as a means to increase “global and inclusive campus community.” Requests for exploration floors and low-cost housing will still be taken into consideration, but geographic diversity will be one of the primary variables in the matching process. Living with someone who lives in a different state, country, or continent will encourage students to network across geographic barriers.

This diversity-mined policy begs a variety of questions, the most potent of which would probably concern the extent of open-mindedness that this policy requires in order to succeed. Freshmen who choose their roommate ahead of time typically do so because they are very particular about the kind of person they want to live with. Without the ability to be selective, some students may face conflict they probably would not experience with a roommate of their choice. It is, however, important to note that this type of conflict could ultimately be conducive to personal growth.

While next year’s freshmen will be more restricted, upperclassmen will experience a new privilege with regards to housing. For all you girls who have fantasized about rooming with the Will to your Grace, you will be glad to know that, as we reported last semester, gender-neutral housing is here. Tom Ellett, Sr. Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, is a strong proponent of this policy; he boldly claims, “treating students as adults to make life choices in their living environment in a place like NYC is fitting.”

Now students can live in the same room with a friend of the opposite sex. With that in mind, students can also room with people who are a little bit more than friends. NYU may be overlooking the fact that many guy-girl couples will make the not-so-adult decision to move in together in their Sophomore, Junior, or Senior year. The gender-neutral policy is not binding in the sense that you can always do bed-for-bed swaps, but there may be a little bit more swapping (of other things) than intended if college sweethearts decide to shack up.

Regardless of the many caveats that may come along with these new policies, both will be progressive and, most likely, beneficial for students next year. Gender-neutral housing is bound to be a crowd-pleaser, and there is no doubt that the diversity policy for Freshmen will forge friendships that may not exist otherwise. Many of us came into our Freshman year at NYU paired with an unlikely candidate that we certainly wouldn’t have met otherwise. But sometimes, something magical comes from these match-ups and these random match-ups live together in subsequent years. But other who have met some of their best friends by finding people online and selecting to live with them are saddened by the chance that future students will miss out on this same opportunity.

With all that in mind, it’s never been uncommon to see some poor kid carting his stuff from Hayden to Weinstein during the third week of classes. So remember, folks, you can always switch it up. Hopefully the new policy will yield positive changes for future roomies of all kinds.

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    7 Comments

  1. Tara A says

    This could be beneficial, but easily not. I was raised in a way some could describe as hippy-ish, my parents constantly teaching me about the importance of attaining world peace. I’ve been complimented throughout my life on my tolerance of different people. Last semester I had a roommate from Korea. Once in a blue moon my boyfriend would come over to our place for about 5 mins just to pick something up or something like that- never anything physical. After about the 3rd time he came, she wrote me a long letter & left it on my desk explaining that due to her culture she doesn’t feel comfortable with him visiting at all. I was completely apologetic & should have known she would feel that way. About a month later I had a couple of friends come over to study & we sat in the shared living area. About an hour later she came out of our room & asked me if she could talk to me. She told me she didn’t feel comfortable with any person of any gender visiting any part of our suite- even shared living area- at all. A little irritated but not one to disrespect another culture, I asked my study buddies to move to the basement. The roommate then slammed the door closed with all her force & made us all feel VERY uncomfortable. There were tons of other minor disputes that she ended with “it’s just my culture”. It started to become clear later in the semester that she wasn’t willing at all to adjust even a centimeter to American culture although she was studying in America & not to mention, could have easily been placed with much wilder roommates. At one point she even refused to blow dry her hair somewhere other than the bathroom when I had literally 4 minutes to shower, brush my teeth, and get to class just because she had been in the bathroom for so long and then told me my asking if she could do it elsewhere was again rude in her culture. At no point did our cohabitation make for a globally diverse learning experience. She became the roommate from hell that abused the excuse “in my culture” and refused to make any room for American culture.

  2. Rae Epstein says

    Doing this did not work out for me and for many others freshman year and I find it a bit angering that NYU would take the option away. How in any way is setting up all roommates–and, let’s be real, I highly doubt with all the organization the housing department needs to do that they really care to pair you up with someone you’re compatible with–going to increase NYU diversity? How about the university concentrates on something a little more important like making more of an effort to help their new students acclimate to both the school and the city? Because they do a terrible job at that too. I’ve said this before many times, Rutgers University–a public school with 15,000 more students than NYU–does a ten times better job working with its freshmen to introduce them to one another in ways that they actually get to know people like them. In taking away students’ options to pick their own roommates, NYU is taking away yet another way for students to find people they can potentially become friends with.

    We all know it; this university has zero community. This university also apparently has no clue how to fix it and instead of looking at models other schools have that actually work, they make stupid decisions like this that further isolate their students. Nearly every single person I met in freshman year thought about transferring out and quite a few went through with it. It never was about academics and, despite our pathetic financial aid program and obnoxiously high tuition, most of the time wasn’t about money either. It was about this school being cold and unhelpful and making it nearly impossible to find people you can bond with.

    NYU, stop wasting everyone’s time and do the right thing. You’re screwing over your present and future students even more than you already do by putting into practice half thought-out ideas like this. Your health center doesn’t save all of your students that want to kill themselves because of the isolating environment you trap them in.

  3. Anna Dutkowsky says

    THANK YOU, NYU. I wish this had been instated my freshman year and NYU had given me no choice in picking a roommate. Massive mistake.

    I met my freshman roommate on URoomSurf and we quickly were convinced we were soulmates. We even met once and it went well… until we moved in together. She bonded immediately with my other two suitemates instead of me and before long the three of them decided I wasn’t “cool” enough. All the things she told me she liked doing, the things we bonded over originally, went straight to hell. I had extremely high expectations of her all summer while we talked nonstop, and was crushed. Not to mention, her sanity was a bad problem and it turned into a really, really bad bullying situation, three against one. My first semester was complete HELL. I was depressed and tried so hard to switch beds, which is a lot harder than you think it is and didn’t finally occur until late November, by which time the damage had been done.

    Not being able to pick your roommate gives you no expectations and puts everyone in the same position (we always complain about lack of community at NYU, so why not create an immediate sense of one in this way?). In most cases I’ve heard of random pairing, either people get along well enough and then separate in the end, or end up becoming unlikely good friends and room together for years to come. Of course, there are exceptions and similarly bad roommate stories as mine. But I’ve spoken to a lot of people who chose their freshman roommate, and nearly all of the stories ended in tears. You can’t expect perfection in a roommate — everything will undoubtedly fall apart when people get disappointed.

    College is meant for us to meet new people. And even as the control freak I am, I wish I had no part in the rooming process my freshman year. I might have made better friends, or at least been more open to meeting people, and felt less lonely. It may be too late for me, but I applaud NYU for giving the new class all the same random opportunity to start anew together. It sucks to have no control, but I assure the incoming freshman that this is better than having control and then regretting it.

  4. Adrianna G says

    “It started to become clear later in the semester that she wasn’t willing at all to adjust even a centimeter to American culture although she was studying in America”

    Tara has demonstrated for all of us exactly why there will be problems with this new system. An 18 year old won’t see this as an opportunity to learn and to compromise her own homogenous and Western expectations — she’ll just complain that the foreign student isn’t “adjusting” to “American culture.”

  5. Tara A says

    and Adrianna has demonstrated for all of us why assumptions and skimming rather than reading is for idiots.

    My entire comment is about how I (the supposed “homogenous/Western” one) constantly made compromises to accommodate her and she made none. I obviously am all for immersing yourself in new cultures. Otherwise I wouldn’t be at this global university & studied abroad. I’m just being the devil’s advocate here and saying the other side of it might not turn out the way you’d expect. My post was meant to show that your roommate might not always be willing to use this as a positive learning opportunity. Tons of people have a hard enough time living comfortably with people of their own cultures. Why make a living situation potentially even more difficult for many more students? This diversity matching should be optional & not applied to every resident so that both parties know what they are getting into- it would be much much more successful this way.

  6. jen eng says

    OMG. Why would they do this to us. People from different countries or cultures will NOT mesh well with ours. We’re going to have so many conflicts compared to just choosing roommates with similar preferences and similar habits. Why are they always implementing useless things like this.

  7. Amelia S says

    I’m in the Class of 2017 and when I first heard about this, I thought it was pretty cool. However, it turns out that all of my suite mates come from the US and that my roommate lives less than 3 hours away from me. All three girls seem nice and I think we’re going to get along quite well but it doesn’t look like NYU did a great job on geographic diversity in my case.