Listening in to Clark Lounge on April 1, the faint chatter of students looking to meet a new living buddy backdropped by the jolting sounds of the Mario Kart soundtrack filled the air. This is because the Residence Hall Association held the Room and Board Games: Roommate Mixer event with the aim of allowing returning students to meet their potential roommates for the next academic year.
The event was open to all students, regardless of year, who wished to join in on the activities, which included some board games and Mario Kart. Meanwhile, representatives from the Office of Residential Life were there to answer any questions related to housing.
Some came for the opportunity to meet their potential roommate in person, while others were more enticed by the free food and the opportunity to relax and hang out with others. Still, the students who were unsure of their living situation next year got to reach out and meet new people.
Junior Nico Goodbar, who went to the event with sophomore Ren Kato, said events like these can help connect people through common interests.
“I think it’s a lot easier to facilitate a roommate meeting process in person,” Goodbar said. “With events like this where there are things that people can kind of talk about and have in common with each other, like Mario Kart and food.”
It could be nerve-racking moving in with a completely new person before meeting them. According to the Churchill Observer, more and more people are using social media to find their new roommates. However, the roommate selection process can prove to be difficult without meeting potential roommates in person. Students have the opportunity to scout out potential roommates through Facebook groups or can be randomly assigned a roommate through the housing selection process, where students are asked a series of questions regarding roommate preferences.
First-year student Leticia Rebelo de Oliveira said she only found out about the event when passing by, but she wanted to know more about what it was all about. Rebelo de Oliveira said the housing process can be confusing and intimidating for many students who are also trying to deal with their everyday school routine and it is easy to feel lost in the process, especially without knowing who their roommate will be.
“I’m [a resident assistant] right now, and I feel that a lot of my residents are trying to choose which building they want to live [in], if they want to live with the same roommate or if they want to change, and I feel it is hard, usually, to find people if you don’t have the goal to find people to be your roommate,” Rebelo de Oliveira said.
First-year student Jason Gertzman, who found out about the event through an email, said he felt it would have been easier to approach new people if there was a bigger turnout.
“I think there could definitely be more people and that if they merged with another club or another organization it would have definitely had more people and been successful, but it definitely wasn’t too bad,” Gertzman said.
Sophomore Kathi Hodel, a member of the RHA, an organization dedicated to helping students engage with on-campus life, said RHA can further push for more student engagement for events in the future by spreading the word through increased use of social media.
“I think more advertisement is always the main goal, like maybe posting more on social media about it, and putting it up in student dorms,” Hodel said.
Still, Hodel said she believed that the event was largely successful in getting people to stay and meet other students. The people who had questions for the Office of Residential Life about housing were able to get those questions answered, which was one of their main goals.
Hodel also said this was the first time she had worked on an event like this and was excited about the engagement that it got. She said events like these are especially important for first-year students who are still new to the process and need help getting through this complicated process.
The environment around the entire event was calm and welcoming. The room was open for anyone to freely move around and start up a conversation. Hodel said she believes this is vital because, to many students, talking about housing is nothing but a daunting task. The more open and widely available events like these are, the less likely students will feel misguided in their housing journey.
“There is a lot of misinformation [about the housing process] being spread around, like, ‘Oh, my friend told me this,’ and clearly that is not always true, and then it’s like, well, what are you supposed to do about this,” Hodel said. “And it is also helpful, I believe, to meet new people because that can be tough, and just getting to know others. That was our goal for this.”