‘It feels like a race’: students face housing and registration confusion

Piano+Row+residence+hall

Photo: Jakob Menendez

Piano Row residence hall

By Adri Pray, News Editor

As the 2022-23 housing and course registration processes commence, some students report being stressed by both.

Emerson’s Housing and Residential Education Department opened housing applications on March 14 and closed them March 23, giving students just over a week to choose their rooming situations for the upcoming school year. On April 1, students will receive status updates, and room selection that occurs between April 5 and April 14.

First-year visual and media arts major Eitan Ehrlich said he experienced confusing communication from the HRE regarding the upcoming housing deadline.

“Their emails were unclear, and it seemed like multiple people were sending different emails at different times. That created some confusion among [my] friend group about how we would register and how we would get our things figured out,” he said. 

Some of Ehrlich’s potential roommates changed their minds about living together and dropped their suite without notice, he said. Having such a short period of time to create a housing plan was challenging and expressed concern that it might happen to other people

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“That might create problems for people trying to find housing on campus, especially when they’re roped into having to have housing on campus as well,” he said.

Junior acting major Allison Earl echoed Ehrlich’s feelings about housing. Citing “disorganization,” Earl said housing feels like a competition that becomes easier as students get older.

“It feels like a race—whoever types fastest gets the room they want. I know that’s how it is, but it doesn’t make any sense. It’s so much more stressful than it has to be,” she said.

HRE Director Christie Anglade said HRE does its best to make the housing process as easy as possible for students.

We work to accommodate every student with a housing guarantee in a space on campus,” she wrote in a statement to The Beacon. “The most active part of housing selection does not begin until after course registration closes.”

“The housing application opens early to give students some time to fill out the information and form roommate groups before the actual selection period begins,” she continued. “The goal is to have students complete housing selection before the last couple weeks of the semester.”

The college’s registration process faced similar critiques as its housing process.

Anne Doyle is an assistant vice president for academic affairs who oversees the student registration process. Though she’s involved with registration, she says departments are responsible for accommodating students in their programs.

“Each department monitors how many students they have, what majors they’re in and then they plan the schedules accordingly,” she said. “The schedule is never really done until the end of the first week of classes.”

Doyle and the other registrars check class sizes while students are registering and creating their schedules. They cancel unpopular classes, adjust rooms to accommodate class size, and monitor students with declared minors to maintain each students’ schedule.

“I wish there was a perfect formula, but to be quite honest, we plan based on what we see on the degree audits, but students don’t always do what we think they’re going to do,” she said.

Doyle said registration dates are determined by spring break dates, as the schedule is able to go live during break or when students get back so they have “two weeks of advising,” and then registration.

“It takes time for the departments to build the schedules and make sure they have faculty to teach the courses before we can all open registration for students. I think that’s probably why this all happens at the same time in the spring,” Doyle said.

The number of seats is determined by the type of course being taught, she said. Writing courses, for example, have to be smaller because of the number of pages of writing that needs to be graded.

Deans, department chairs, and academic affairs decide the number of seats as well as what sections are offered based on the faculty available. If departments are unable to find faculty to teach a certain section, they may not be able to offer that course.

“In my role as assistant vice president, I have worked with the department chairs on the schedule pretty closely over the years,” Doyle said. “We’re pretty involved, but it comes down to what we have available, what we need for the students that we have and what the classrooms are that we have.”

Department chairs will work with students to gain entry into a course that is unavailable if it impacts the track of their degree. Doyle estimates a “high 90 percent” of students fabricate their registration situation to get a class at a time they want with the faculty member they want.

“We can’t satisfy every student to have every class they want at a particular time with a particular faculty member,” Doyle said. “That’s just unheard of, but we do our best, we really do.”

Both Doyle and Anglade recommended students keep up with their emails in order to get pertinent information regarding the registration and housing processes.

“Understand requirements, make sure to meet with an advisor, look at the full body of the requirements and don’t focus on one or two things,” Doyle said. “Understand and attempt to be flexible.”

Bailey Allen contributed to the reporting.