Students lack choice, communication with housing

Rising sophomores anticipate living in Fairview, where many hope to be placed by Residence Life. Photo by Lauren Gdowski


Rising sophomores and juniors seek clarified communications from Butler’s Residence Life office amidst confusion regarding upcoming housing selection time slots and assignment procedures. In past years, students were designated a specific time to enter Butler’s Housing Portal and select a unit for their prospective roommate group — a choice afforded to all in the past, but now only offered to some. 

A new system for sophomores 

Current first-year students who apply for returning student housing — typically in Fairview House, a primarily sophomore residence hall on campus — will be designated a unit for next year’s housing assignment rather than selecting their own. This information was communicated to current first-year students via email earlier in the semester but was not publicly available on Butler Residence Life’s website at the time of publication. 

Kara Sabanski, a first-year speech, language and hearing sciences major, was surprised to hear of this change. 

“When [my class] first came in, we were under the impression that once you had your [housing group], you would be given a time slot [to] go [into the portal] and pick a room,” Sabanski said. “We got notified through an email that that’s not the case anymore and that they are going to be randomly putting us in rooms. There is that concern that either our group is going to get split up somehow, or [Residence Life is] just going to add two random people to our six-person pod without telling us.”

Residence Life chose to adopt the new housing assignment process in order to accommodate a large rising sophomore class and maximize space in Fairview House. Shannon Mulqueen, director of Residence Life, provided clarification regarding some of the concerns students such as Sabanski raised regarding group housing assignments. 

“What we’ve seen in the past few years is that people tend to not maximize space [when selecting units],” Mulqueen said. “For example, someone who’s trying to have a single [may] intentionally place a four-person group in an eight-person room, leaving [extra] space in [the rooms]. We see a lot of groups that are having to intentionally be broken up … By controlling it, we’re hoping that we can get more people in the spaces that they want to live in, with the people that they want to live with.” 

Communication concerns 

Amidst new practices for rising sophomores, some students of a variety of classes are hoping to receive clearer communications from Residence Life regarding changes to the housing process. 

The decision to assign rising sophomore housing groups to units for the upcoming year was made earlier in the academic year and was subsequently communicated to the class via email in February. However, the change in housing selection was not announced to the general student body, nor added to the Returning Student Housing page on the Residence Life website. 

Sabanski said that confusion within the student body may contribute to further anxiety surrounding the housing selection process. 

“I’ve heard a lot of different complaints about [Residence Life],” Sabanski said. “About [the process of] switching roommates, picking roommates, groups getting split up. I think updating their website more frequently and making a statement that ‘this is how the housing process works’ [would be helpful] because I feel like it’s really kind of pushed under the radar. No one knows who gets preference [or] how it even works.” 

Sophomore dance performance major Emma Young said that a quicker response time to direct inquiries and increased transparency regarding housing policies and procedures would increase their trust in the Residence Life office. 

“I know that it took an email and calling a billion times to get through to [the office], unfortunately,” Young said. “I wish I knew who I was gonna get placed with and that [Residence Life] could just move people in and out of your pod whenever they choose … if they move people into your pod, they usually only give you a 24-hour notice. I think the lack of communication is the most frustrating part [of housing].” 

Prior reporting from The Butler Collegian clarified inconsistencies on the Residence Life website regarding University Apartments and housing options for rising senior students. 

Rising sophomores and juniors such as Young raised similar concerns regarding communications of changes to housing procedures. 

“I’d say [from the] beginning of this semester, [it wasn’t] super clear how you fill out the [housing application] or how you get to choose what apartment you live in,” Young said. “I [hesitated] to reach out [to Residence Life] because I figured they would not answer my questions.” 

Next steps 

Moving forward, some students hope that Residence Life will be prompt and forthcoming to both incoming and returning students regarding any amendments to housing procedures. Sabanski understands that housing is a complex factor that contributes to some students’ college selection process, and said that she hopes Residence Life will communicate more clearly to future Bulldogs. 

“I first found out about the housing process after I had already submitted my deposit to Butler,” Sabanski said. “I’m a tour guide, so families ask me, ‘What’s the housing process for admitted students?’ [As an incoming first-year] you don’t even know anything about housing until you’ve already submitted that deposit. If you’re debating between Butler and another school, [housing can be] kind of a seller in my opinion.” 

Rising juniors should not anticipate any changes to their housing selection process; housing selection time slots for all returning students were released Tuesday, March 28, and time slots begin on Thursday, March 30. 

Mulqueen advises students to remain prepared as they enter the housing portal to select their desired units for the next academic year. 

“Just make sure you log in at your [designated] time,” Mulqueen said. “Remember that there are lots of great places to live.” 


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