New Room Selection System for the Beren Campus Raises Frustrations Amongst Students

By: Emily Goldberg  |  June 23, 2024

By Emily Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief

With the end of the past academic year and a new one on the horizon, students trying to enjoy their summer breaks have been startled yet again by another YU email. On June 18, 2024, students on YU’s Beren campus received an email from Beren Resident Life regarding an updated room selection system for the 2024-2025 academic year, which left many students feeling frustrated. 

In the past, room placements have been assigned to Beren students directly by the Resident Life team. At the end of each academic year, students fill out a housing application in which they write their top three choices for which dorm buildings they prefer. Students are also able to form their own roommate groups, which the housing department highly encourages on the application, including this past year. Then, the Beren Resident Life team would assign rooms to groups or students doing single housing based on their answers. Housing stressed that they would do their best to accommodate all preferences. 

This past year, Beren students were first sent the housing application for the upcoming academic year on May 21, 2024, the first day of the study period before final exams on the Beren campus. Included in the email with the application was a new section titled “Room Selection.” 

“We are excited to join many universities in giving students more control of their college experience by empowering them to choose their housing assignments for the upcoming academic year!” the email stated. For Beren Resident Life, this new initiative aims to allow students to take-charge over their room assignments and play more of a direct role in choosing where they will live. “On designated days in late June, group leaders of roommate groups will have the opportunity to choose their room with their roommates.” 

Further details about the process were provided to students in the June 18 email. The email started by comparing the process to “class registration,” which many noted is notorious for being an extremely stressful process where students face many complications.

According to the email, the group leader of each roommate group will be responsible for logging onto the housing portal at a designated time to select a building, floor, and room for their group. Students who opted to do single housing will participate in the same process. 

Students will only be shown room options that correlate with the respective number of students in their roommate group. If no rooms correlating to that number of students are available, students will have to adjust the number of individuals in their room before proceeding to sign up for housing again. 

Therefore, the email stated, “We recommend that everyone be near their computers/on their phones in case you all need to discuss your housing choices or need to go in and adjust your roommate group.” 

Students have expressed an immense amount of frustration with this new system, which they believe to be more complex than the old one, creating a stressful situation for them. The YU Observer spoke with lots of students, many of whom chose not to be quoted in this article, but all expanded upon the various perspectives and components of this issue.  

This new system puts a lot of pressure on the students, especially group leaders who have to fight to get a room,” Eliana Diamond (SCW ‘25) told the YU Observer. “While this system is supposed to provide more freedom in housing selection, it is in fact limiting the choices people have as everyone races to get their room at the same time.” 

The fact that housing emphasized in the email that students should be on their phones because they may have to rearrange their roommate groups was worrisome for students. In the past, students have generally been assigned one of their top three room choices, however, with this new system, it seems like there is a lot more potential for things to go wrong. 

Students wonder why housing decided to change their system in the first place. “I have so many questions… what’s been wrong with the system thus far that they’ve decided to change it?” Minna Katz (SCW ‘26) told the YU Observer. “How is this going to be a fair way of getting a room – is this okay?”

At the time of publication, a staff member of the Beren Resident Life team has not yet responded to an email sent by the YU Observer on June 20 inquiring as to why the department decided to change this system and the Beren Resident Life team did not respond to the YU Observer’s following correspondences. 

Many students would rather the Beren Resident Life team assign the rooms as they always have, rather than placing this part of the process onto the students. “I personally am majorly anti [this new system],” Shalhevet Cohen (SSSB ‘25), Beren Campus Student Government President, told the YU Observer. “[I] think it’s a way for them to shift the blame when people get upset about their room assignments.” 

Without the use of the application as a means of placing students into rooms, many are worried that they will end up in rooms that are not right for them. This is especially concerning when being in a room where one feels comfortable can have a crucial impact on one’s school year. 

“Residence life has a much better idea of the experiences and needs of students overall to provide more people with the housing they want,” Diamond said. “This new system will make more people unhappy.” 

When the YU Observer asked students from YU’s Wilf campus if such a system was being implemented for them as well, they stated that they had not heard about such an initiative as part of their housing process. 

The email sent to Beren students also outlined the timing for when students will be able to select their rooms. Students new to Beren in fall 2024 will be able to select their rooms on June 24 at 12 PM EST until June 25 at 9 AM. Afterwards, returning students will be able to select their rooms on June 26 at 10 AM EST until June 27 at 10 AM. 

Since a majority of students have left the YU campus for summer break, many are concerned about this timeline. With busy plans during the day and many YU students out of the country, being available at these times specifically will not be easy. This time frame is even more overwhelming for students considering that it is important for them to log onto the housing portal as soon as they can to select housing so as to have the best chance at getting the room they prefer. 

On Friday, June 21, at 2:46 PM, students were sent a follow up email by Beren Resident Life which added that if students are not in the United States and have a different phone number than the one associated with their Microsoft account, they must call YU’s IT Help Desk with their new phone number in order to be able to long into the housing portal. 

YU students were also especially frustrated by the order of precedence chosen by Beren Resident Life. “Why do new students get priority over existing ones?” Katz said. Returning students who have spent past years waiting to get priority in the room assignment process and live in certain rooms that they were less likely to be assigned in their first year were extremely confused when they saw that new students get to choose their rooms first. 

“It’s just so frustrating to make it to senior year and everything about senior priority gets ripped away,” Diamond said. “I’ve lived on really high floors for the past two years and I was ready to not feel like I ran a marathon every time I hiked up to my room on Shabbat.”  

On the housing application website it stated, “It’s important to note that new students receive priority consideration for placement in Brookdale Residence Hall.” Therefore, it seems as though this might be the reason why new students get to choose their dorm rooms first, although this has not been confirmed. 

Additionally the housing application noted that three dorm buildings, 35th Residence Hall, 39th Street Residence Hall, and the Megantic are designated only for upperclassmen. However, these three dorm buildings are the most expensive options, costing students $7,750 for a semester or $15,500 for a year, whereas all the other dorm buildings, 36th Street Residence Hall, Schottenstein Residence Hall, Brookdale Residence Hall, and 251 Lexington Ave are all less expensive, ranging in prices from $5,625 to $6,750 for a semester or $11,250 to $13,500 for a year. 

Therefore, for returning students, the fact that these three dorm buildings are designated for only upperclassmen is not reassuring. “They’re going to stick me in a building I can’t afford because they’re giving more affordable dorms to new students!” Tiferet Weissman (SCW ‘25) told the YU Observer.   

The housing application noted that after this process ends on June 27, the housing team will then review all room selections made by students. Housing reserves the right to change any room selections and will send out confirmations to students in July. 

“We recognize this process is new and things which are unfamiliar can feel overwhelming,” the email stated. “We appreciate in advance everyone’s respectful participation in room selection and patience with this new process.”

Some Beren campus students are excited about this initiative and believe that it offers opportunities that the old room selection system did not. “I really like the idea of being able to pick my own room,” Talia Isaacs (SCW ‘27) told the YU Observer. “I feel like students deserve a say on where they’re gonna live for an entire year.” Students who are proponents of the new system are grateful that it will allow them to have more of a proactive choice in their housing assignment. While Talia had a positive outlook on this system, of the students who spoke with the YU Observer, she was the only one who expressed this sentiment. 

For many students, this just seems like another unnecessary burden impeded on them by YU. As the date to select rooms nears, Beren students are concerned about the outcome of this process, feeling an unexpected and added responsibility placed on their shoulders during their summer break. Many wish that housing would have stuck with their old system rather than added a new hassle to an already strenuous process, especially without student input first. 

As Diamond stated, “I’d honestly much rather they assign everyone, knowing the big picture, then leave it to the students. To quote Thomas Bertram Lance: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’”