Students with living accommodations now able to participate in roommate matching

Campus Living & Learning, located within Penland Residence Hall, has made the roommate matching process accessible to students with living accommodations. Olivia Havre | Photographer

By Raylee Foster | Staff Writer

Students who need housing accommodations on campus will now be able to participate in the roommate matching process with all students after Campus Living and Learning updated its housing portal.

During her freshman year, Katy junior Brenna Colihan, director of accessibility for Student Government, said she had a poor experience because of a flaw in the housing accommodation system. As a result, she sought to change it for future Baylor freshmen who had specific living accommodations.

“The reason they didn’t do [roommate matching] in the past was because it wouldn’t be fair to the other students, so I said, ‘OK, but what about the disabled students?’ Because it’s not fair for them either if they don’t get to have their friends with them,” Colihan said.

Prior to recent changes, Colihan said the housing website did not have resources or guidance; it was solely comprised of a link to a housing accommodation application form and contact information for the Office of Access and Learning Accommodation with any questions.

Students who needed accommodations were not able to partake in the roommate selection process with other on-campus residents.

“Why, because of my disability, do I have to give up all of these other things that are a pivotal part of being a freshman?” Colihan said. “We didn’t know in advance that we didn’t get to choose where we lived or who we lived with, so I felt like, at the very least, you have to put a disclaimer that says you’re not going to get to do this.”

After working closely with CL&L, Colihan said she was able to initiate a change. She met with Ian Philbrick, associate director for housing administration, to discuss what changes should be put in place. She said she wanted to specifically address flaws within the website, such as lacking adequate information as to what the housing process looked like for students with accommodations.

Philbrick said he had been in his position for roughly a month when Colihan reached out regarding these changes, but he was eager to help. He said he recognized the absence of sufficient information for housing accommodations.

“There was no official, formal process for a student who was requesting a housing accommodation to also have a roommate, so we tried to help those students get the roommate they wanted — if they wanted a roommate — but there was no formal process and so, understandably, that was confusing,” Philbrick said.

Now, students with living accommodations not only have access to a detailed website regarding what the accommodation process entails, but also have the opportunity to participate in roommate matching.

“If a student completes their housing application by May 1 and their approved accommodation is for a double or triple room, they will be able to participate in Roommate Matching with other students in their assigned community,” the housing accommodation request website said.

When she received news of this change, Colihan said she was overwhelmed with joy.

Students who need housing accommodations must still fill out a Housing Accommodation Request form that is sent to OALA. The information is then sent to CL&L and students are then assigned a building and a room type. From there, they take part in roommate matching with everybody else.

Though the website is much more clear now, Philbrick said CL&L has employees ready and willing to talk through any confusion that may arise. He said the goal is for students to be able to fully participate in the roommate process on their own and be more clear from this point forward.