Binghamton University’s Residential Life staff has made changes to the Returning Student Housing Process starting this fall, allowing students to have peace of mind when choosing their housing for the following year.
In the past, the housing portal would open in mid-October, when students could begin forming housing groups. Around a month later, students would be finished determining their housing for the following year. This early process would force students into making housing decisions about dorm location and roommates that many were not prepared to make. Freshmen who were not yet familiar with the campus’ different communities would have to choose where to live for the following year after only attending BU for a couple of months, which led to many students making ill-informed decisions they were later unhappy with.
Now, students have much more time to weigh their options and make a well-informed decision about housing. Students can sign the housing contract starting today and begin to form groups, but have until Feb. 12 to commit to a particular room. This gives all students the necessary time to decide, while also giving first-year students time to learn about the communities and make friends to room with. ResLife’s cancellation policy will remain the same, despite other alterations. Students can cancel any time between signing the housing agreement and locking into a room without a penalty fee, but after they sign up for a room, they will be forced to pay a $200 fee.
Those who sign the housing agreement early will receive 15 “priority points” that will help them sign up for housing earlier. Some students voiced concerns that the system still tries to force them to make a decision early with the offer of priority points, but Paola Mignone, interim director of ResLife and University Housing, wrote in an email, “There’s really no down-side to signing the housing license early but it’s a way that we can help students start thinking about the process early.”
This also gives students a way to earn priority points of their own volition, as priority for signups was formerly determined by where a student planned to live, whom they planned to live with and the class credits they had amassed. The Editorial Board recognizes and appreciates ResLife’s efforts to reform the priority system as it makes changes to the overall housing registration process.
The University’s changes may affect off-campus landlords, who have been starting the recruitment process for residents for their houses and apartments earlier and earlier each year to keep up with ResLife. With these landlords rushing to find occupants, students may feel pressured to sign a lease as soon as possible, rather than weighing the options. Living on campus isn’t always the best option for every student, despite Mignone’s claim that “nobody builds community like [they] do.” Though it may be less community-oriented, off-campus housing is sometimes more convenient and often less expensive. Students do have choices, so it’s important they do their research and are careful not to rush into housing they might end up regretting.
Where a student lives affects every aspect of their life at BU. It can determine something as trivial as which dining hall they are likely to frequent to something as important as the friends they make. ResLife has listened to students’ concerns and input and made an informed decision that will benefit all students. Giving students more time to consider their housing options will allow students to avoid making decisions early on that they may not still be happy with a year later. Everyone should have the opportunity to take their time, do their research and make educated housing decisions.